Although two Clients asked CareerSupport365 to support some of their redundant staff recently, little did they realise that they would also find themselves caught up in managing the internal damage and risks associated with lower morale.
As a possible backlash to learning that some of their fellow staff had been laid off, in both cases, correspondence was sent to a C-Suite executive asserting bullying in the workplace.
The complaints were left fairly generic, but threatening. Both letters were along the lines of:
“To whom it may concern
Unless bullying behaviour stops in our office, I will have no choice but to report you to the authorities.”
As the environment in Australia can be quite litigious and any action taken by employees could hurt employer brand and reputation, both companies’ Human Resources departments were asked to investigate.
In one case, it involved flying a staff member to a State office, to interview all 40 or so staff and see to what extent they might be able to flesh out who had made the complaint.
Some of the costs associated with this:
- Head Office staff flight and accommodation for at least 3 days.
- The opportunity cost of the Head office staff member investigating the bullying case.
- Water cooler gossip amongst most staff in the office.
- Lost productivity for the time taken to interview each employee as well as their settling back to work after each interview.
- Lost productivity by many staff who wondered who had done the bullying.
- Lost productivity by many who wondered who had been bullied.
What was apparent was that the same situation could happen repeatedly by any employee’s intention to cause harm and mischief, rather than getting on and helping the company achieve its goals and execute its plans.
What can you do to mitigate this happening to you?
I am curious to learn how you might handle this, by emailing me.
But in the meantime here are some starting suggestions.
- Whatever the circumstances, seek to engage employees in key decisions that impact their morale and productivity
- Inform employees about the company progress
- Let employees know that grievances can be aired in confidence with their immediate manager or Manager’s manager, or the HR department.
- If people are made redundant, or retrenched, explain to all staff the reasons for doing so.
I address how 2 companies handled this issue in two earlier posts where it was handled well here but poorly here.
Want to learn more about difficult conversations in the context of performance management and letting employees go? Click here to find out more.
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