The past few months have seen a staggering number of layoffs, with over 150,000 employees losing their jobs. While companies may claim that their employees are their greatest asset, the reality is that many are cutting staff at alarming rates. However, the impact of layoffs isn't limited to those who were let go. The remaining employees, who may have been deemed "lucky" to have kept their jobs, can also be deeply affected
So, what can managers do to combat these negative effects? Here are four tips to keep in mind when handling the aftermath of layoffs:
ACKNOWLEDGE SURVIVOR’S GUILT
Let employees know their feelings of grief and anxiety are normal. Stay approachable and listen to their concerns. After a round of layoffs, it’s important to relate to and connect with the team members remaining.
FOSTER FRIENDSHIPS AND MENTORSHIPS
It's more important than ever to give employees the space and permission to socialize at work, as the pandemic has led to a rise in societal stress and a craving for connection among workers. Studies have shown that on-the-job socializing can actually lead to increased productivity, creativity, and well-being. In a remote work environment, it's crucial to be creative in fostering connections, such as scheduling virtual coffees or lunch meetups and using digital hangouts to spark new introductions and strengthen existing bonds. Allowing employees to turn off work mode can also lead to more authentic connections.
GIVE GENEROUS RECOGNITION
It's important to acknowledge the accomplishments of both those who left and those who are staying in your company. People want to be seen and appreciated, especially when they’re worried about their jobs. Start meetings with shoutouts and then invite team members to share their own “gratitudes” for teammates. Be thoughtful and specific; a vague “nice job” compliment can sound insincere. Public and private shoutouts are equally valuable. If you sense that a particular employee isn’t comfortable with attention, send a personal email or note, or call. Employees who feel recognized at work are twice as likely to put in extra effort and innovate, so a 15-second investment in a thoughtful compliment is totally worthwhile.
HELP THEM FIND PURPOSE
It's crucial to remind employees of the mission, vision, and purpose of the company and specifically their individual contributions. Emphasizing the "why" of their work can reinforce a sense of belonging, loyalty, and pride, especially among millennials who are five times more likely to stay when they strongly connect to their employer's purpose, as per a PwC survey. To help employees understand their value, speak about the benefits of your products and services to customers and community, and how their day-to-day efforts contribute to it. With the current pandemic, employees are seeking value and purpose more than ever, so it's important for the company to deliver it.
Overall, it's important to acknowledge the survivor's guilt and emotional impact of layoffs on remaining employees. Managers should create a supportive environment that promotes connection and collaboration, and be transparent about the company's goals and plans for the future. By taking these steps, companies can mitigate the negative effects of layoffs on their remaining employees and ultimately improve performance and productivity.