Managerial Responses to Challenges Facing Survivors of Downsizing: a Survey of Manufacturing Firms in Nairobi
Many organisations are going through massive shifts as they face the new global environment and in an attempt to remain competitive in an cver-increasing global marketplace, firms see few alternatives to downsizing. This is where the logic of lean organisations breaks down. In lough times people issues often take a back scat to more pressing problems. Organisational needs take priority over employee needs every time. However, it is not tenable in the long term simply to expect higher outputs from people in terms of performance with fewer inputs in terms of resources, people, training, time and support. Many organisations arc waking up to the need to address issues of employee motivation, but managers often express a sense of impotence about how to deal with them. Several studies have shown some of the challenges survivors lace as being low morale, low employment commitment and concern about job security. It is with this kind of scenario that the study set out to determine how Kenyan firms from the manufacturing scctor have responded to challenges faced by survivors of downsizing and also establish how survivors of downsizing perceive actions taken by their employers to deal with the challenges they faced. A survey of 30 firms was used for this study and the data was obtained through the use of a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire was then distributed to the Human Resource Managers or anyone in charge of the IIR function and two employees in each firm. Over 80% of the firms that responded used several responses in trying to deal with the challenges that employees faced after downsizing. 36% of the firms had survivors participate in decision making. 59% of the firms used effective communication to refocus employees. 32% of the firms were able to compensate their employees equitably and share the burden of downsizing across all levels of the organisations and 56% of the firms empowered their employees to enhance personal control. On the other hand all employees agreed to having experienced challenges to various degrees. 44% of employees experienced low morale. 45% of them experienced job dissatisfaction. 49% of them lacked the confidence to take on new responsibilities and 42% of them had intended to leave the organisation, indicating that any downsizing proccss always leaves employees with different experiences. Both management and survivors of downsizing were in agreement with regard to the need lor management to use strategies thai would largely be perceived positively by employees and sustain the organisation long after the immediate effects of downsizing arc experienced. It is important that organisations involve all interested stakeholders as it makes major decisions on such sensitive issues like downsizing. This ensures that employees own the process and help the organisation move forward with its future plans. If leaner organisations and Hatter structures are here to stay, the challenge is to make them work from the point of view of meeting employee needs, so that in turn organisational needs arc met.
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