In a time of looming recession, market inflation, and falling stock prices, mass layoffs at your organization could be on the horizon. It’s a tough time for HR leaders who may be involved in these decisions and delivering the unfortunate news.
If a significant restructuring of your team is on the horizon, here are five key tactics to keep your team engaged, boost morale, and avoid quiet quitting after mass layoffs at your company.
1. Honest Communication – After the layoffs are completed, schedule a company-wide meeting that day to explain the reasoning behind these decisions. In this meeting, candidly state the facts, answer questions, and respond to feedback.
If mass layoffs are handled poorly, you can lose employee engagement, productivity, and, ultimately, revenue – which was the point of the layoffs in the first place.
To avoid this outcome, it’s important to be direct, authentic, and get straight to the point. You looked for ways to cut costs without staff cuts, but ultimately these decisions were necessary.
Distrust can lead to poor performance and people jumping ship. Clarity and empathy are key to boosting morale after layoffs and inspiring confidence. This meeting is also the time to acknowledge the hard work of the people who were let go, clarify that these were not performance-based decisions, and reiterate your belief in those who remain.
2. Schedule One-on-One Conversations – Anytime something like this happens, the remaining employees will have concerns about being next on the chopping block. It’s important to clear up any confusion about why layoffs were necessary, acknowledge these anxieties, and reassure the remaining employees the company is solid. It’s also essential to be visible and approachable. If employees think HR and leadership are hiding in the shadows, it fosters distrust and fear.
Your retained employees are likely to have questions and concerns. They will be less worried about losing their jobs if you make them feel seen and show appreciation for their hard work. Convey you are in control and that this is not a sinking ship. Assure your team that the company is solid and no more layoffs are planned.
3. Have a Plan in Place – The important thing now is to reengage your retained employees, prevent mass resignation, and get back to work. After furloughs, there will be holes in productivity.
Work that was previously completed by the people who are no longer here will no longer be getting done. Maybe you had to make bigger cuts from one department than another. The remaining employees in that department will be affected more than other departments. Understand this gap and have a plan for moving forward so nothing gets missed
4. Address “Survivor’s Guilt” – After the surprise of learning of the layoffs and the relief that comes with still having a job, an employee might start to worry about the employees that were let go.
Did they know this was coming? Were they given severance? Do they still have health insurance? What are they going to do now? Do I have to take on their work now?
By answering these questions before they’re asked, thanking the laid-off employees for their hard work, expressing your gratitude and appreciation, and showing empathy, you prevent the uncertainty that can eat away at team morale.
Part of having a plan in place from the previous step is so you can outline any new responsibilities and state how things will work going forward. It shows you’ve considered matters, and layoffs weren’t a quick decision.
5. Create Connection – We’re in a remote work world. You may have many employees on your payroll who never come into the office. Your company may not even have an office. In these scenarios, it’s easy to think that team members won’t be affected by a large-scale layoff because they don’t see people packing up their desks, walking out the door, and the empty cubicle across the hall.
Just because people might not see the result of a mass layoff doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. To counter this, schedule breakout rooms via Zoom, virtual lunches, and digital donuts to build employee connections and foster interdepartmental communication.
The bottom line is workforce reductions require thoughtful consideration and careful planning. But by communicating openly and directly, having a plan in place, and creating connections, you can remind people of their purpose and your company’s greater mission.