Message to Layoff Survivors?

I understand the need to keep retained employees motivated, but what I need to find and distribute is some common sense stuff. (I'm thinking TXHRGuy will have some good ideas as he's always great for that sort of thing!)

I need communication that I can send managers to send their staff that says:

Look productive ALWAYS!

I sit in my office and see the most amazing amount of strolling and chit chatting, going off to the gym for hours, taking long lunches, etc. People talk and if they see folks just socializing and openly goofing off they think, "why am I working my tail off while these people have nothing to do?"  People need to use their heads, lay low, stay put in their offices and do busy work even if their not super busy because perception is reality and I can’t tell you how many times an EVP comes to tell me someone in his group pointed out this or that and it just doesn’t seem fair as we lay off folks in several groups – everyone we have let go has a person or a bunch of people they mention who they think does nothing or can’t be justified.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

What I’m asking is for something we can send to employees to show in these bad times, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by doing x, y or z -does anyone have/know of any articles about this so we can come up with an appropriate message? 

I know the more savvy employees are already doing this, but there are certainly a large number of people who are behaving as if they have nothing to lose.


  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I hope my sense isn't too common.  I try to get people to pay me a lot of money for this stuff.  If anybody tells someone else I have common sense, I'll deny it.

    A lot depends on your relationship to the management team.  If you are, for example, a HR business partner, then you are optimally placed to do something like the following:

    Hold a management meeting.  Explain how times are tough out there right now.  There are no immediate plans for a RIF, but you never know when that might change and the decision will not always be in the hands of the direct supervisor.  At that point, to avoid being accused of grand standing, you might want to say that it isn't always a HR call, either.  Many factors go into RIF decisions from the CFO to legal counsel to HR to input from the people with boots on the ground.  That being said, appearances can be very important, so my message to you today is to reinvigorate your work force with a sense of urgency.  If they have nothing to do, they should be looking for something to do.  The best thing you can do for the team mates you value most is make sure they stay busy.  As the old restaurant maxim goes, "Got time to lean?  Got time to clean."  There's ALWAYS something to do.  It creates dischord in the Company when we're laying people off and other people can't seem to find something to do.

    The nice fallout of this approach is that people who don't really care to find work to do will be obvious first potential targets for the next RIF.

  • Seems counterintuitive to me--if layoffs are happening, you'd think the survivors would be supermotivated to excel at their jobs in hopes of escaping the next round of layoffs.  But, if it's any comfort to you, apparently you are not alone in experiencing unproductive layoff survivors. There's an interesting article on the phenomenom at
  • Hey, read Jack Welch's column in this week's BusinessWeek.
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