How can I ensure that my staff stay engaged through restructuring?

16 September 2011 -


“My business urgently needs some organisational changes and a structural overhaul in order to survive future challenges. How do I help my workers to feel a part of it, rather than alienated?”

Jill Dann says:

The psychological health of a company and engagement with employees is vital. Engaged employees are loyal and productive: they show bonding to the organisation by promoting the organisation to family and friends. Employees who are not engaged may be productive – but psychologically not bonded to the organisation and can be tempted to defect elsewhere. Actively disengaged employees are physically present, but psychologically absent. On social media and in encounters with colleagues, they may appear intent on running the organisation down.

Economic downturns can allow people to bring their ideas forward for improvement of current products and services, development of new ones or better use of technologies to reduce costs and expand customer services. Keeping individuals engaged with their work requires clarity – they should understand their contribution to the business in both tactical (team, individual) and strategic (department, enterprise, group) terms. How this is valued and relevant is very pertinent; it is a question managers have to answer in determining who is at risk in a restructure. However, if engaged employees are not skilled in delivering new capabilities, they may need to be retrained or be at risk of redundancy, too.

Bad news regarding threat of redundancy is best delivered faster for the individual rather than leaving people with uncertainty or ambiguity. Often, news is delayed because the manager has insufficient experience and knowledge to know how to restructure intelligently, fairly, ethically and legally. Ensure your confidence in your knowledge and ability is at a good level – make sure you consult and research accordingly.

Jill Dann is founding director of Consultation Limited, where she designs organisational development programmes for blue-chip and professional organisations

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