Layoffs are always difficult decisions at any stage. Recently, we’ve seen more high-profile layoffs, with companies like Google and ESPN announcing layoffs. According to an article by Tech Crunch, “The running total of layoffs for 2023 based on full months to date is 201,860, according to Layoffs.fyi. Tech layoffs conducted this year exceed the total number of tech layoffs in 2022, according to the data in the tracker.”
As leaders and HR Professionals, we spend a lot of time focusing on the people we have to lay off, but what about those who stay? The employees remaining in the organization are dealing with a lot of uncertainty, and their trust in leadership and HR has been crushed. What leaders need after a layoff is a motivated team to help execute the strategy of the company. So, how do you re-inspire trust?
In a recent conversation with the HR Rebels group, a group of HR Professionals globally that meet to talk about best practices and/or challenges such as these, members shared their best practices on this topic. The one thing that rose to the top was listening to the employees. Create time and space for employees to talk, ask questions, and vent.
Being heard is so important to help employees process everything that happens when a layoff occurs. Some additional ideas that can help you listen to employees include:
- Holding office hours
- Leaning into your mental health programs and helping employees practice Resilience
- Verdant Consulting can help you build a resilience training program to support your employees and leaders
- Utilize your EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to help leaders and employees
- Hiring coaches to work with employees and/or leaders
Leaders can help ease their concerns. This includes transparency and conversations with employees to address concerns. Discuss the future and its importance, then relate it to the individual and the importance of having them on the team. This will help light their intrinsic motivations.
Investing in the employee can help the employee stay with the company and get excited about the future. That can show up in different ways, like a compensation adjustment and a good faith effort in career development. Separately, you can offer stay bonuses to encourage people to stay. However, if you’re not doing some of these other things, they will leave as soon as that stay bonus arrives.
How you treat those that are leaving the company will also help those that stay. Treating separated employees with dignity and respect can help those still with the company feel a greater sense of comfort, knowing that you treated their peers fairly and well even though they had to exit. There are no standards on severance, so that’s a strategic decision. However, you can support them through a transition by giving them more time to transition, help with resumes and job searches through an off-boarding program, and a clear and thoughtful transition plan.
At the end of the day, giving it time and giving the team time to heal will help ease everyone, especially if you continue to do things to build trust by using some of the tips above and being authentic and transparent. Leaders are responsible for inspiring those left after a layoff instead of just the people lost.