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What do Layoffs Mean for Your Surviving Staff?

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

We know this will be a traumatizing time for the employees that are laid off and thrust back into the green banner gang, but what about the survivors?

Empty seats, Zoom meetings with half the normal headcount, teams disrupted, projects up in the air, and awkward silence. Layoffs have been continuing since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US. 2022 saw a steady increase in tech layoffs with the downturn in the economy, and they aren't stopping in 2023.

If there is anything 2022 has taught us, it's that nobody has job security. Whether you work with a FAANG or Startup, or you've been with a company for 15 years. It's no wonder we are seeing an uptick in self-employment and contract workers.

It's no secret that after a layoff your turnover will increase. Survivors may be unwilling to take on extra work that their coworkers used to do. They might lose sight of the companies values and mission. They will feel insecure, wondering if there will be another round of layoffs, and whether or not their name is in the hat.

Engagement will decrease. People are over here losing sleep over what will happen next. What about their projects, their clients, their career path, and expectations?

Turnover and decreased engagement are inevitable.

Here are 8 mindful tactics you can use to mitigate it and keep your integrity...

Be Transparent

Be honest and transparent every step of the way. Give advanced notice about the upcoming layoffs if possible, instead of blind sighting your whole organization. Be upfront about information for both survivors and those being made redundant such as the severance packages, PTO payout, team reorganizations, projects that will be side-lined, and any other pertinent information.

This is not the time to sugarcoat or sidestep, everyone in this situation is an adult that wants the ability to plan for the near future as best as possible.

Be Lean

Don't buy that air hockey table you know Ryan in Sales is going to love. Nobody wants that right now, except you and maybe Ryan. Cut down on any extravagant spending you can. This doesn't only apply to physical items either.

Tighten up the software budget, the company trips, events, and parties - anything you can. Your people want to see that you are doing everything possible to save on costs, not just letting go of staff and hoping for the best.

Be Present

You're going to have to push back that vacation. It doesn't matter if you've been planning it for 6 months now. Nobody wants to know you're in Maldives with one of those little umbrella drinks when you just turned your employees, and their families, livelihood upside-down.

Now is the time to show that you are there on the ground with your people. Recommend the ex-employees you worked with on LinkedIn. Make a post advertising their skills. Think about the items you can achieve on your end to make survivors more comfortable and do them! Actions speak loudly.

Be Supportive

If you need to plan extra meetings, or help with restructuring and integrating, then just do it. It's the least you can do at a time like this.

Some employees may find value in one-on-one meetings. Some teams may need an extra hand meshing or getting up to speed on a project they have been moved to. Communication and going the extra mile is key right now.

Offer Jobs back where you can

This one is pretty simple. Do you realize that the company actually did need Jessica after all? Invite Jessica to take her job back. Even if you have to offer a lower salary for now, she may very well prefer to come back with her team than go somewhere new.

Think of where people can be transferrable. Did you let go of Recruiters and now you need Sales? Did you let go of Analysts and now you need Project Managers? Think strategically. It's a lot easier (and cheaper) to bring people back that already know the company rather than start from scratch.

Offer a Day Off

Your people are going to need a breather after this, and so are you. Enable the company to take a day off to process and come to terms with their new situation.

A day off will allow surviving employees time to speak with their families and friends about the situation and receive support at home, as well as offer support to their colleagues they will no longer be working with.

Be Compassionate (but not too compassionate)

Be compassionate, but don't take it too far. This isn't about you and nobody wants another "Crying CEO" situation. Show your employees that you understand how they may be feeling.

Write letters of recommendation for those that will be parting from the organization. Engage with those that will be staying. Remember that what you do is always more important than what you say.

Own It

This one can be hard, but you have to own it. Admit that the company over-hired in previous years. Admit that mistakes were made, and unfortunately employees have to take the brunt of it. Don't point fingers or make excuses. Again, everyone in this situation is an adult, and they will respect the decision to be honest and claim fault.

Following these 8 tips will put you in a better position to retain trust, balance, and ultimately employment, with your remaining staff.

-Amy Israeli, HR Consultant

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