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Forced to lay off staff? Be sure to keep the bridge open

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Forced to lay off staff? Be sure to keep the bridge open

In the uncertain economic times created by the COVID-19 crisis, you’re likely grappling with numerous extra worries, from the safety of your employees to the solvency of your business. Perhaps the biggest concern for many of you is having to lay off staff members due to government-mandated closures of non-essential businesses or short-term economic stresses.

If your business is among those, it’s important to keep those laid-off employees “warm,” to build a communications bridge that will keep them engaged. When the dust settles and your company can reopen, onboarding those laid-off employees will be crucial to getting things back on track quickly. The good news is many members of your staff may be eager to have you hire them back. But there is a risk, especially for your hourly workers, that they may decide to go work for an “essential” business, such as a grocery store, and decide to stay there even after you’re ready to hire them back.

Because of this psychology, and just the overall uncertainty for these people you have come to care about, I believe it’s a great idea to create some nurture sequences that will keep you in touch with employees who have been laid off.

Here’s how:

Use email to keep them engaged

●      Create a plan to communicate at least weekly.
●      Stay positive, and include elements of hope for getting them back to work and seeing them again soon.
●      Provide relevant, helpful information, such as changes in the law that may benefit them.
●      Offer non-work strategies, such as tips and strategies for using the time to connect with family and friends using tools like Zoom and Facetime, or fun homeschooling strategies and tools.

Create a private Facebook group for your impacted employees

Email is a given, but consider other ways to stay touch. A Facebook group allows you to share both timely information but also positive distractions. After you create the group, have group admins share any commercial or business affiliations in the group, and update the group description and make an announcement if affiliations change.

Make your Facebook group a vibrant space that helps build connectivity and lightens the mood. You can decide whether posts are allowed by all group members to the group page and, if so, whether or not the administrators of the group must approve user posts before they go “live” (we recommend this).

Upbeat things to post may include:

●      Fun memes and posted content from other users’ Facebook posts using the Share feature.
●      Ask users for fun content, such as “Describe the most eye-opening thing you’ve learned sheltering in place with your kids,” “Show us a project you recently completed around your house,” or “What are you binge-watching?”

The key is to engage dialogue and participation.

Conduct Facebook Live events

Facebook Live is a broadcast video tool where you can create a video in real time that allows your viewers to participate in a virtual experience with you. It’s also semi-interactive, allowing viewers to send you comments and questions that you can respond to in real time. The Live session is archived, so people who missed it can watch it later on your Facebook page.

You can use Facebook Live to share formal or casual information. For example, perhaps give a tour of projects getting completed around the house or have a Q&A session, hosted by leadership, with recent questions you’ve been receiving from the group.

 

Rikka Brandon, a recruiter in the LBM industry since 2001, is a building products recruiter with Building Gurus. Reach her at rikka@buildinggurus.com.

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Rikka Brandon is the founder and Chief Executive Recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with building product manufacturers and distributors to find, hire, and retain top executive-level talent. She is also the best-selling author of "Hire Power: Everything Entrepreneurs Need To Know To Hire Awesome People."