How to Manage Employees After Layoffs

Outsourced human resources

Layoffs are never pleasant for anyone involved. And managers often have the task of breaking the news to those losing their jobs while maintaining high morale for those who remain. In many instances, this can feel like an impossible task.

While layoffs can be difficult, they are at times necessary, especially during uncertain economic conditions. However, how management approaches the team throughout and after layoffs can profoundly impact the culture and the remaining employees’ morale and job satisfaction.

The following actions can greatly impact regaining trust with your team after layoffs.

  • Be honest: There is no denying that layoffs have a devastating impact on trust in the workplace. Coworkers may begin to feel insecure, angry, and fearful of one another. And they often have high mistrust in management after layoffs. However, honest communication is one of the best strategies for salvaging any remaining trust and rebuilding trust in the workplace. Being candid and transparent about why the layoffs were necessary and what the future of the business looks like can go a long way toward easing remaining employees’ fears and concerns.
  • Understand that productivity may suffer: One study found that nearly three-quarters of employees who retained their jobs after layoffs saw their own productivity decline. It should be no surprise that productivity may be impacted. After all, the remaining employees likely struggle with many emotions after a layoff, such as grief, survivor’s guilt, anger, and fear. They are also adjusting to a new environment, which may no longer include people whom they had relied on for certain tasks. One of the best ways to address this is by offering empathy and compassion by understanding that productivity may drop for a while. But if you continue to build trust with your team, productivity will bounce back after the remaining employees have been able to adjust and process their emotions.
  • Get input: One thing that many people struggle with during and after a layoff is the feeling of having no control over the situation. Therefore, knowing where your employees stand and actively collecting feedback is one great way to address the lingering fear and uncertainty after layoffs. This can be done by having frequent one-on-one meetings with team members, conducting anonymous surveys, and having team discussions. Creating a safe space for your team to be honest is another key strategy in rebuilding trust. It won’t be pleasant, but the outcome is usually much more positive than it would otherwise be.
  • Adjust salaries to align with new expectations: One of the unfortunate aspects of layoffs is often that the remaining employees must pick up additional job duties to compensate for having fewer team members. And while this is one of the worst times to expect more from your team, you can help by incentivizing these additional duties in any way possible. Increasing compensation and adding benefits can often soften the impact of these changes.
  • Celebrate successes: Immediately after a layoff may not be the best time to celebrate any successes, but after some time, these celebrations can positively impact the remaining team members. Likewise, it’s important to recognize the team’s efforts after reshuffling duties, which will foster a positive work culture. It also lets your team know that their contribution and efforts are valued and appreciated, which helps employees to continue feeling connected with the team and the workplace.
  • Create a supportive environment: Some employees who have kept their jobs may struggle with adjusting more than others. It’s important to recognize that not everyone responds to stress and changes similarly. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create support systems so struggling employees know they can ask for help without fear of punishment or retaliation. This can be accomplished internally or as part of outsourced human resources functions. Sometimes, providing an external partner, such as an outsourced human resources professional, is better to help discuss the changes and individual concerns your remaining team members may have.
  • Recognize the role of leadership: A great leader will help their remaining team weather the storm by ensuring everyone is clear about any new roles. They will also set the tone for how supporting and understanding management and employees are to one another. And finally, a great leader will remind their team of their value and how the recent decisions – even though painful – are necessary to ensure the company’s future.

There is no doubt that layoffs are one of the most stressful times for any company that has to go through it. Often, a company can benefit from working with external HR experts and consultants to help prepare for layoffs and ensure the remaining employees get the support they need. To learn more about outsourced human resources, contact CA HR Services today!

CA HR Services specializes in working with small and medium-sized companies to help develop legal, efficient, and appropriate H.R. processes and procedures that meet state and federal labor law requirements.