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EHS MANAGEMENT BLOG

How Technology Helps Support Surviving Employees During a Downsizing

During a downsizing, employers usually pay a lot of attention to the employees who are let go. But what about those who are left behind?

With fewer people to get the work done, many layoff survivors find their responsibilities double overnight. The increased workload can lead to long hours, plummeting productivity, burnout, and additional voluntary turnover.

However, there are steps employers can take to relieve some of the burden and boost the morale of their remaining employees when layoffs are unavoidable.

Along with transparent and proactive communication, supporting surviving employees means providing them with the resources to do their jobs effectively. And while software is no substitute for a skilled employee, it can help bridge the gap during a downsizing by taking away some of the burden of administrative tasks.

Thanks to technology, many processes that used to be done manually can now be automated for your workers, freeing them up to focus on higher-value tasks. Here are a few of the ways you can use technology and automation to support surviving employees during a downsizing:

1. Automate data collection & reporting

What’s the fastest way to frustrate your team when they’re already overworked and understaffed? Forcing them to waste valuable time keying in data and compiling reports.

Automated data collection refers to the process of automatically extracting data from various sources such as your CEMS, ERP, production, and work order systems — similar to how your fitness tracker can capture data about your run time, distance, and heart rate. Setting up automated data collection allows employees to simply open their computer and find the data they need already available in intuitive dashboards, saving them hours of manual data entry and reporting.

Data collection can be automated further with the use of mobile apps. Instead of capturing data on paper forms that need to be entered into the system by hand, employees can use mobile apps to capture data in the field.

Your team is likely rekeying data from dozens of forms every week, so this will eliminate an entire step in the data collection process and save them hours of unnecessary work. As an added benefit, automating data entry will cut down on the potential for errors so that your team benefits from better data and less time spent on QA/QC.

2. Follow up on assigned tasks & action items automatically

During a downsizing, fewer EHS staff means more work for the remaining team members. A common solution is to delegate tasks like audits and inspections that would normally be completed by an EHS employee to someone at the facility level, such as a site manager or shift supervisor. But someone still has to notify people of assigned tasks, add them to the calendar, and follow up to make sure they actually get done.

Instead of attempting to follow up on tasks manually, managers and EHS team members can set up alerts that automatically notify them if an assigned task is not completed. For example, if a safety inspection assigned at the facility level is overdue, EHS staff can get an email alert letting them know the item needs their attention. This will cut down on the time they spend sending emails and chasing down overdue tasks. Team members can also set up automated email reminders for assignees so that deadlines don’t get missed in the first place.

Alerts can be set up in your calendar tool or email, but we recommend using EHS software. That way all your tasks and alerts can be managed in a single place for full visibility across the organization.

3. Use EHS management software

EHS software allows you to manage all your tasks and information in a central location. It gives you the ability to organize, share, and store data and documents easily.

Instead of having to dig through the departing employee’s computer for important files and documents, your remaining employees will have uninterrupted access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively. And, in the event someone is laid off or leaves the organization voluntarily, you will know exactly what that person was working on and when it is due. This will result in less wasted time and a smoother transition for surviving employees — not to mention less risk for your organization.

Ideally, EHS software would be put in place before a layoff occurs to avoid having to scramble to cover important responsibilities. However, it’s never too late to implement a software solution, and doing so will result in instant improvements in productivity.

Though there are some upfront costs involved in purchasing EHS software, it is typically much more cost-effective than, say, outsourcing to independent contractors — a common move during a downsizing.

Final thoughts

No one wants to lay off employees. Your people are the most important part of your business, and keeping them happy and productive should be your top priority. If, however, you’ve explored every option and a downsizing is inescapable, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact on surviving employees. Part of that plan should include leveraging technology and automation to shoulder some of the burden.

Next, learn the 5 steps you should take before key employees retire.

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