For many organizations, the end of the year also means reviewing performance before the holidays. Some even find December the right time to make staffing changes, so that the team can reconnect when they get back in the office in the first week of January without living through the stress of changing team dynamics in the new year. But are end-of-year reviews and staffing changes the best thing for company culture?
The answer is: it depends.
While "business is business" and companies typically take an agnostic approach to ensuring their bottom lines get met. Stephen Rothberg, President of College Recruiter, told The Street that the taboo of firing employees during the holidays has lessened over the years and today "most employers today believe in the adage that you should hire slowly and fire quickly" regardless of the time of year.
However, many still believe laying off employees or putting them in a position to tell their families they got "fired for the holidays" instead of getting a Christmas ham is ill-advisable. Philippe Weiss, a managing director of Seyfarth Shaw at Work, shared with Fast Company " plaintiff lawyers have told him that they often see an uptick in calls from angry former company employees who are particularly incensed at the holiday-layoff timing."
While many leaders think employees will be grateful to still have a job and so therefore work harder, the opposite often tends to occur. Survivor guilt is something employers need to take into consideration. The strategy of "starting the new year fresh" can backfire when it comes to employee productivity and voluntary attrition. Once layoffs and terminations start to happen, employees can't help but wonder if they'll be next. And leadership research done by Leadership IQ with over 4,000 employees in 319 companies, show 74% of employees who kept their job reported their productivity declined post-layoffs. That productivity loss can hit harder the bottom line and last longer than saving a few weeks of salary at the end of the year: 69% of those surveyed shared the quality of their company's product or service has declined.
So if your business can afford it, consider waiting until after the holidays. Take the time to review for yourself what strengths each of your employees add to your business. You might find a layoff or termination isn't the right answer and they might do better being moved to a different area where their strengths can shine. But if it has to be done and it has to be done during the holidays, reconnecting with your remaining workforce is crucial. The last thing you want coming back into the New Year is a workforce of the "walking wounded" because left untreated... they'll leave. Understandably, trust levels will be low so be as transparent as possible and be sure to have leaders engaging with each member of their teams before leaving for the holidays. Then when everyone returns, make sure every manager is able to clearly communicate detailed plans in place for how the business will move forward in the New Year.
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