What are we doing about the “Survivors”?

Posted on June 11, 2015 by


The first blog from Muir Urquhart, our recently appointed Director of Consultancy Services…

head in the sandThe current crisis facing the oil and gas sector is one of the worst to affect us since the inception of North Sea Oil back in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Fact.

The dramatic and sustained collapse of the oil price has forced many organisations into severe cutbacks, project mothballing, recruitment and training budget freezes, cancellation of graduate and apprentice programmes and major redundancy programmes.  All of which clearly create significant organisational stress.

Whilst the industry had undeniably allowed itself to get too “fat”, and there was a need to look at a the cost of doing business in the north sea, there is an emerging view that many of the responses from organisations have been classic “knee jerk” reactions, with limited thought being given to the medium to longer term impact such drastic actions have on the people who remain in the organisation, or in other words The Survivors.

During times of redundancy, the effects can be felt not only by the employees being made redundant but also by the Managers who have to make tough decisions, have difficult, even painful conversations with colleagues and friends and have to motivate the people who remain in the organisation.  Often the focus is placed on those who are being most affected through redundancy, with the more enlightened organisations providing outplacement support to displaced employees.  Such support can help an organisation to reduce the risk to their reputation and employer brand, minimise the negative impact on their people being made redundant and improving their organisations competitive advantage.

But what about the Survivors?

When the dust has settled for those who remain in the organisation things will have changed irrevocably.  Long standing colleagues and friends will have gone, additional workload will inevitably be heading their way, more will be demanded of them and stress levels will inevitably remain high for the foreseeable future.  For the wider organisation, there may be significant employee dis-engagement, rock bottom morale, increased absence or sickess problems and an inevitable dip in overall organisational effectiveness and performance.

Also in the longer term, when the upturn does eventually come, organisations may see significant spikes in staff attrition as employees look to move on to new challenges with other employers.  And dare I say the old clichés of skills shortages, aging workforce and lack of new young talent entering the industry will rear their ugly heads once more!

Organisations should seize the opportunity to proactively position themselves for the upturn by investing in the Survivors just as they have invested in the leavers.  Organisations can increase effectiveness and efficiency through appropriate reorganisation and redeployment, as well as staff re-engagement and training.  In addition good old fashioned team (re-) building during these difficult times can provide an invaluable insight into how the Survivors are feeling and demonstrate the importance the organisation is placing on them for the future.  Also by looking at more efficient ways of working and genuinely investing in effective redeployment, organisations can often ride the storm without significantly damaging their capability, core competencies, credibility and employee loyalty.

Those who are bold now and invest in employee development and engagement will reap the rewards come the time of the inevitable market upturn.  They will also be in a much stronger place to attract new talent for the future.

In simple terms don’t forget about your Survivors!

If you would benefit from some external help to ensure you are looking after your survivors, call us on 01224 643465 for a no obligation chat…