For growing, entrepreneurial companies, the notion of moving towards business automation has been bittersweet. On the one hand, automating processes can lead to greater efficiencies and increased workforce productivity. On the other hand, it could mean replacing people who’ve been with the company for years or decades and ripping into the fabric that holds the business together.
As our economy moves into the age of automation, how can companies maintain their corporate culture? Here are three simple solutions to help businesses not only survive the changes, but thrive from them.
1. Spell out growth plans
Most employees love being part of a winning team. In entrepreneurial companies, growth plans indicate the business is serious about winning. If part of the growth means automation and/or reducing your workforce in certain areas, it’s imperative to let your employees know that growth comes at a cost. Smart companies will always look to grow efficiently and effectively. Your corporate culture won’t take a hit if you take the time to spell out your growth plans to employees; just remember that most people hate surprises at work.
2. Get input from team leaders
It behooves entrepreneurs and managers to get input on maintaining corporate culture from team leaders. Ask them where the potential obstacles and pitfalls are in your growth plans. Where do they see pushback from employees regarding changes to workflow or productivity in growth areas? By engaging team leaders, you have more people on your side promoting your growth plans and actively working to maintain your unique corporate culture.
3. Take care of the people you let go
If you have changes in your workforce due to automation, a new direction for your company/department, or the result of a merger or acquisition, it may require letting certain people go. If you don’t want your corporate culture to suffer as a result of any of the above situations, then do the right thing and take care of the people exiting your business. Nothing makes current employees more nervous about the future of their careers than watching former colleagues get unceremoniously laid-off with poor severance packages and little hope of finding a new job in the near future.
If you must let people go, be it one person or 100 employees, thank them for their service to your company with a severance package that says you appreciate their work. The difference between inadequate and generous severance packages is far smaller than trying to repair your corporate culture with the employees still working for you after the layoffs.
The next five years will bring measurable changes to the way people work, and to corporate cultures. By keeping the lines of communication open, staying engaged with your team leaders, and being generous to anyone you must let go, you have a very good chance of maintaining the unique corporate culture that makes employees want to work for your company.