Downsizing With a Difference: Keeping "Survivors" Engaged and Productive
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Downsizing With a Difference: Keeping "Survivors" Engaged and Productive

June 15, 2023 | Report

Experiences from Asia

The possibility of an impending recession has triggered a spate of large-scale layoffs globally, including in Asia, especially across the tech sector. Layoffs are often viewed as an effective and efficient means of reducing costs during tough times. When using this strategy, leaders must manage the potential adverse impact on surviving employees to preempt a reduction in productivity, engagement, creativity, and loss of key talent.

Insights for What’s Ahead

  • There are many potential adverse effects on survivors that need to be understood and managed. Adverse impacts on survivors may include feelings of “survivor guilt,” futility, fear, inequity, loss of meaningful relationships, stress created from workload increase, uncertainty about their future, erosion of trust in the company’s leadership, and violation of psychological contract. Specific actions by leaders and managers to mitigate negative impacts of layoffs on survivors include clear and transparent communication, acknowledging, addressing, and providing safe spaces for emotional expression, and reconnecting survivors with the organization’s mission and purpose.
  • The “how” is more important than the “why.” Survivors, as well as those who were let go, may care less about the reasons for the layoffs and more about how the process was communicated and executed by their leaders. Create a proactive communication plan and narrative, pre-layoffs. Senior leaders must authentically and transparently articulate their rationale and highlight other options before deciding to let go of staff. 


SandhyaKarpe, PhD

Human Capital Center Leader, Asia and Program Director of Asia Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council, Asia Human Resources Council
The Conference Board



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