Companies facing layoffs may also face the need to address layoff rumors. Doing so helps minimize negative impact to employees and the company.
Layoff rumors can have dramatic impacts on employee morale and company operations. Whether they’re founded or unfounded, chief executive officers, managing directors and human resources professionals need to know how to respond. Here’s what to understand in order to minimize — or reverse — the damage.
Causes of layoff rumors
Rumors of job cuts can stem from several different sources. Even a hint of actual layoffs from leadership will be a direct cause of rumors circulating. These rumors may make those layoffs seem much worse than they will be.
The tech sector is a good example of additional causes and dynamics. When some companies made big layoffs, employees at other tech companies that hadn’t got nervous and started talking. Many tech companies made layoffs in stages. And some of their surviving employees worried that they could be part of the next round of layoffs.
Of course, the same can occur across many industries. Any signal within any company or sector is likely to cause worry and chatter about potential or impending layoffs. The following are some more specific causes of layoff rumors.
When businesses face uncertain economic times, employees infer that they too could face uncertainty. They may worry about layoffs if there are substantial unknowns in the sector or economy at large.
When a company’s leadership changes, the management below the leadership is often laid off so that new management can be hired. New leaders want to bring in their own people who will be fully onboard with the coming changes. In particular, this can lead to layoff rumors among mid-level managers.
Downturns in company performance can necessitate decreases in its workforce. Should employees see unprecedented decreases in sales, orders, or profits, they might question the sustainability of their own jobs. Some might no longer be needed if operations slow.
Should current employees, including recruiting staff, learn of a hiring freeze, it makes sense that they’d wonder if workforce limitations might affect them as well. Top talent might not be concerned, but others may become quite worried about the near future.
Gossip and misunderstandings
Sometimes rumors of layoffs are truly unfounded yet are the result of gossip or misunderstandings among employees. In these cases, the rumors should be clearly and completely quashed by leaders.
The impact of layoff rumors
Whether they’re true or not, layoff rumors can have multiple negative effects on a business. If the rumors aren’t addressed, the effects can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Decreased morale and productivity
Rumors can have a significant impact on employee morale, leading to a decrease in productivity. When employees feel uncertain about their future with the company, they may become disengaged from their work, resulting in lower performance levels. What incentive do they have to invest in a company that might just let them go?
Fear and anxiety among employees
Workplace layoffs can impact employees in diverse ways. A heightened sense of job and financial insecurities among employees can cause anxiety. Workers may worry about how they would manage financially if they were to lose their jobs, leading to increased stress. The emotional strain can have a detrimental effect on employees’ overall well-being and contribute to career grief and declining productivity.
<Damaged reputation of the company
Rumors can negatively impact a company’s reputation, both internally and externally. Employees may lose faith in the company’s leadership and question its stability. Customers, suppliers, and investors may also perceive the company as unstable. That can have lasting consequences on business relationships and future growth opportunities.
How and why to address layoff rumors
Companies should address layoff rumors simply because it’s doing right by employees. Doing so can also minimize any rumor-related negative impact the company might otherwise experience.
Communication and transparency
Open and honest communication is key to dispelling unfounded rumors and correcting inaccurate information. Take advantage of the opportunity by being transparent about the state of the business and any potential challenges it faces. Also clarify the measures being taken to address those challenges.
If the rumors are reality-based, make it known you’ll be communicating the layoffs to employees once plans are finalized.
Clarify company goals and plans
As part of being transparent, it’s essential to clarify the company’s goals and plans for the future. Employees need to understand the organization’s strategic direction and how it may impact them. By articulating a clear vision and objectives, leaders help alleviate anxiety and restore employee trust and confidence in the company’s direction.
Provide reassurance and support
During times of uncertainty, employees need reassurance and support from their leaders. This may come in the form of telling them they won’t be laid off, if indeed layoffs won’t occur. If employee layoffs do loom, employers should share what severance, benefits, and resources employees will be able to access.
Take action to prevent actual layoffs
Finally, it’s essential for leaders to consider layoffs a last resort and take proactive steps to prevent them if possible. This may involve identifying cost-saving measures, exploring new revenue streams, or pursuing alternative business strategies. Ultimately, the cost of employee turnover takes a toll on companies. For some, a creative employee retention strategy is the key to avoiding layoffs through current challenges of a temporary nature.
Learn about layoffs and more
Effectively addressing layoff rumors is crucial for maintaining a positive work environment. Companies for whom layoffs cannot be avoided can outline how to address layoff rumors in their plan for how to manage layoffs. For valuable tips and resources for managing these and other business challenges, visit Workest daily.