Organisational change can be a stressful and emotional experience for employees, particularly when it involves redundancies or restructures. While those who lose their jobs may experience a range of negative outcomes such as financial instability, job loss, and uncertainty about their future, those who remain employed are often left to deal with the aftermath.
Survivor Syndrome is the term used to describe the negative effects on employees who remain with a company after a redundancy or restructure. It can manifest in various ways, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and decreased morale. In extreme cases, it can even lead to unexpected employee turnover. This can have serious consequences for the organisation and a lasting impact on the financial success of a company.
One of the primary causes of Survivor Syndrome is a lack of communication and transparency during the redundancy or restructure process. Employees who are left in the dark about the reasons behind the change or the criteria for selecting who stays and who goes are likely to experience feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
To mitigate this, organisations need to be proactive in their communication efforts. This includes being transparent about the reasons for the change, providing regular updates throughout the process, and offering support and resources to struggling employees.
Source: Adapted from Noer, 1993
So, what causes Survivor Syndrome, and how can organisations mitigate its impact?
Another key factor in mitigating the impact of Survivor Syndrome is ensuring that employees feel valued and appreciated. This can be achieved through a range of strategies, including providing opportunities for professional development, recognizing and rewarding good performance, and fostering a positive workplace culture.
It is also important to note that Survivor Syndrome is not limited to employees who were directly affected by the redundancy or restructure. Even those who were not directly impacted may still experience feelings of survivor guilt or anxiety about the future.
Organisations must strive to alleviate some of the negative effects of Survivor Syndrome and promote a sense of unity and support within the workplace. Effective ways to do this are:
- Encourage employee feedback,
- Actively listen to the substance and tone of the feedback that results, and
- Put actions in place that will have a meaningful impact on the team’s cohesion and performance in the year ahead.
Using the Qlearsite platform, organisations can pro-actively manage their retention risks and ensure that the team that remains is committed to the task ahead and fully engaged in delivering the strategy.
In conclusion, Survivor Syndrome is a hidden but significant impact of redundancy and restructure in the workplace. Organisations that fail to address the negative effects risk losing valuable employees and may experience a lower return on investment. By being proactive, organisations can mitigate the risks of attrition and promote a more positive and productive workplace.