Don’t Lay Off, Just Ask for Help

Covid-19 is shaking the global economy and presenting employers with unprecedented challenges. Things are so unpredictable for the majority of companies, especially for small and medium sized enterprises in terms of their financial resources and workforce they own. It’s even worse for companies who have been mostly operational on-site.

Most of companies’ revenue had essentially been cut in half, even more. The companies now have a new challenge: 1) Bankrupting 2) Laying off some of their employees.

This a tough decision to make for any employer, business leader and CEO.

But what if there is another option which would save both sides and secure their presence for long time. It’s called “Ask Your Employees What to Do” method.

How to Perform “Ask Your Employees What to Do” Method in Your Company?

The first thing you need to do is calling a companywide meeting to let employees know the state of the business and solicit creative strategies for navigating the next few months. It would be even better to schedule X number of hourlong meetings with small groups of employees to check in and gather ideas. Just let everybody to just put all your cards on the table and listen what your employees will say.

These meetings are going to reveal some key insights. These uncertain times create also a great way to unite and sacrifice together to help each other from top to bottom. The only way to keep the company in business and avoiding layoffs is to sacrifice some amount of paychecks of everybody in the company from top to bottom, unless you have a big chunk of cash in the bank laying around.

But how to do this? Not every employee could afford to give up the same amount. Some have families, some have mortgages, some have to pay their tuition fees, others have savings that could keep them going for a while. It’s not entirely a known public information.

The only way to ask this to your employees without hurting anymore is finding a way doing the entire process privately. You can simply do that by giving a form to each person that allowed them to write how much, if anything, they could sacrifice financially in terms of a pay cut.

It would be acceptable and understandable if the employees with higher earnings generally give up more while lower-paid employees give up less. But everyone in the company would take a cut, if it is possible of course. This way your company would still be in business and your all employees would keep their job and get paid even it means little bit less than what they usually were earning before. It’s better than nothing.

So, CEOs, please consider talking with your employees before laying them off. Asking for help, sharing ideas, listening and deciding unanimously can actually help you to make better business decisions as leader and would create more trustworthy environment for your employees.

There are 3 major outputs to learn from this method as a CEO:

Be open and honest.

By openly sharing details about your company’s finances, you can help your employees to understand how dire the situation is. Once this is clear, they are more willing to sacrifice to keep the business going.

The lesson here is “If you’re in a bad situation, hiding it won’t help but actually will harm you as the face of the company as well as your company itself.”

Instead of underestimating or ignoring your people, trust them. The more information you can provide, the better they’ll understand the situation and be willing to help.

Listen.

By listening openly to your people, you will learn key insights about how they feel about the situation and what they are willing to do. This allows your employees to fully process the situation and come back with thoughtful responses.

The lesson here is “After you’ve presented the situation to your people, try to hold structured meetings with them, in small groups if possible. Then, listen carefully–without interrupting. 80% listening, 20% talking would work very well.”

These meetings will reveal key insights about what your people are going through–and can inform decisions on how your company can realistically move forward.

Work together.

By allowing your  employees to help brainstorm the solution, you eliminate some of the natural resistance that comes to big, unwanted adjustments (like cutting pay).

In other words, by tapping your employees to find a solution to a difficult problem, you simultaneously achieve buy-in for that solution.

The lesson here is “Instead of trying to solve your company’s problems just by yourself, give your people a chance to participate. This makes them feel less like the victim who is subject to the demands of their clueless employer, and more like a partner who’s invested in making the solution work. This also will help you to ease the entire decision-making process and take the extreme stress from your shoulders. You must stay healthy to help yourself but most importantly to your employees.”

So, if you’re an employer or business leader faced with difficult challenges right now, focus on doing these three things:

  • Be open and honest.
  • Listen.
  • Work together.

Doing so will help you build a culture of trust in your workplace. That’s emotional intelligence–making emotions work for you, instead of against you. The best leaders are the ones who know how to combine IQ and EQ together.

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