Overcoming survivor guilt to get back to business as usual

In the wake of restructuring and redundancies, your surviving team can frequently be left shaken and riddled with guilt.

But with greater pressure to perform at the very time that they are mentally and emotionally drained after surviving what may have been multiple changes, how do you get back to business as usual?

1. Acknowledge the emotional component of change

Employees that remain after a major restructuring can experience all the emotions of grief and loss, after all, some of the people whose roles were made redundant would have been friends and valued colleagues. As a result of this, survivors of change can also experience guilt over the fact that they remain in the organisation when others don’t.

It should come as no surprise that this emotional reaction to change and redundancy can impact the productivity and performance of those remaining. To overcome this, it’s important to acknowledge the emotions survivors experience and provide adequate support.

For those that want to discuss what’s happened, give them the forum to do so. Acknowledging survivors and helping them move on will speed up their ability to return to their usual performance level. A town hall styled meeting is a great forum do facilitate this discussion and remind employees of the reason for the business changes.

2. Recognise the contribution of surviving employees

It’s not easy being the ones who remain after a major restructure. There can be much confusion as people get used to the new way of doing business, and there can be a larger workload as the new direction and targets are rolled out, titles are changed, and position descriptions are expanded.

For employees to do their best work, they need to be assured and feel safe and secure in the workplace. This is no easy feat during change, however recognising their contributions, listening to their opinions, validating their ideas and praising their efforts can help them feel valued and needed.

3. Support exiting employees with outplacement

Outplacement isn’t just for exiting employees; it proves to surviving employees that you value the people who work for you, even if they don’t have a future in the company. If exiting employees are mistreated, trust will be broken with survivors and productivity and performance will naturally drop.

However, if survivors see that you’re committed to exiting employees and give them every opportunity to make their transition easier, faith is restored, and the personal guilt experienced as a survivor can be reduced.

4. Invest in survivors

It’s not unusual for survivors to be worried that more changes are coming and to be concerned that their job may be next on the line.

By providing survivors with employee development opportunities like career coaching or leadership coaching you can help them move on in their existing role or transition into any new internal role faster. It can also reinforce their value within your organisation and prove that you intend to invest in their future and keep them around for the long-term.

Is survivor’s guilt holding your business back? Call the transition experts, Turning Point Partners today on 1300 27 83 45.

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