Keeping Employees Engaged After Layoffs

Layoffs are challenging for all parties, but the company’s success depends on how its leaders navigate the uncertainty and keep their remaining workforce engaged. One study found that even a 1% downsize can result in a 31% increased turnover rate. So, how do you re-engage your employees and avoid the mass exodus that often accompanies workforce reductions?

Understand and Combat Driving Factors

Quite a few factors keep leaders from re-engaging their employees; the reasons behind leaving range from shaken confidence in the company to finding someone to blame. The first step to quelling concerns is acknowledging them in the first place.

  • Combating loss of Confidence
    • Before restructuring and setting new goals for their employees, leaders must combat the loss of confidence in the company. Communicate to your remaining employees the new goals and their importance in achieving them.
  • Employees No Longer See a Future at the Company
    • Professional development is one of the top reasons employees stay at a company. Sixty-eight percent of workers reported they would stay in a job that offered professional development opportunities. Layoffs can make it hard for the employees still working to see a future for themselves at the company, which leads to more employees looking for other jobs. While companies are unlikely to give promotions or pay for professional development courses during a layoff, leaders can meet with employees to learn their professional goals and restructure where appropriate.
  • Employees Blame Leadership
    • There is often a misconception that those in leadership roles make it through layoffs unscathed, which causes resentment and distrust. Nip this misconception before it snowballs by communicating how layoffs impact leadership and the sacrifices those in leadership made and continue to make.

Re-engaging Your Workforce

As remaining employees try to adapt to organizational changes and manage their survivor’s guilt, leaders must focus on rebuilding the company culture and ensuring current employees are valued. With driving factors for turnover in mind, it is vital leaders take these steps quickly to avoid turnover:

  • Communicate Transparently—Today’s world demands transparency. Provide your remaining employees with clear information on why the layoffs occurred, the company’s plan for the future and what steps leadership is taking to move forward. Managers should create a safe avenue for questions. Consider using an anonymous form, team meeting or 1:1 meetings with each team member. Whichever route you take, make a point to ensure the remaining employees of the company’s commitment to their well-being.
  • Address Employee Emotions – Survivor’s guilt is challenging to move past. Your remaining employees are likely navigating mixed emotions after surviving a layoff ranging from anger, anxiety, guilt or disappointment. By providing emotional support with an employee assistance program through human resources, you will receive anonymous input into your employees’ well-being and company culture.
  • Set Clear Expectations and Goals – Take time to establish individual performance objectives, outline new or shifted job responsibilities and encourage feedback. A company is only a shell without its people. Make sure they feel heard and understood.
  • Recognize Outstanding Performance—Most people enjoy acknowledgment for their accomplishments. Public recognition or offering incentives often motivates employees to go the extra mile. If the company can’t provide a financial incentive, some options include additional PTO or flexible work hours. Offering benefits to those who have gone above and beyond can go a long way in boosting morale.
  • Lead By Example – Lastly, the example leaders set encourages employees to do the same. Leaders must maintain open communication, have a positive attitude and a determined work ethic.

Dealing with the aftermath of layoffs is never a smooth process, but through open communication, empathy, goal setting, recognition and strong leadership, your employees will stick by your side. If you need help with your career transition services, change management, stand-in HR or Leadership Coaching, AJ O’Connor can help. We offer custom plans for every company, no matter the size. Let us help you navigate these uncertain times. Contact us today.

Related Posts:

Rising Above the Rest: Tips to Navigate Uncertainty During an RIF

Adapting to Thrive: 5 Ways to Evolve as a Leader

Post by AJO

Founded on core family values and a commitment to building strong, long-lasting partnerships, AJO approaches its work with confidence and expertise that only comes with over 40 years in the business. Working with companies of all sizes, needs and budgets, AJO develops high-performing teams and global leaders for organizational success.