How to Improve Employee Engagement After a Layoff

  • Author: Melanie Haniph

Reports of layoffs in the news are troubling and can leave anyone feeling on edge. And if you’ve lived through a company layoff, you know how it can affect those who remain. However, despite the range of emotions employees feel after a layoff, it is possible to help them stay motivated and engaged. By understanding employee concerns and recognizing their needs, you can help them recover and get back on track.

Here are three critical ways to manage and improve employee engagement after your organization has undergone a company layoff:

1. Increase Transparency with Frequent Communication

Frequent communication can go a long way in boosting transparency and helping employees navigate the changes around them. A great way to start is to communicate with employees in company meetings. They provide an excellent forum for speaking frankly about the cause of a layoff, how it’s being handled, and what employees can expect next. 

Team meetings and employee one-on-ones also provide opportunities to engage employees in discussions about the layoff and its impact on the team. These meetings can provide the outlet employees need to share their concerns, ask questions, and discuss any changes in job responsibilities following the departure of teammates. When managers create a safe space for open and honest discussion, employees have a chance to build strong bonds of mutual trust and connection, which in turn fuels engagement. In fact, our recent Employee Connections Study found that one-on-one and team meetings were among the most critical drivers of employee connection and belonging.

2. Show Employees They’re Valued

It’s not uncommon for the employees remaining after a layoff to wonder if they will be next. Some decide not to wait around to find out, and leave voluntarily. A recent Visier study found that resignations increased on teams that lost a member through a layoff or termination.

After an event as unsettling as a layoff, it’s the perfect time to let employees know they’re valued and wanted. Here are just a few ways to show your appreciation:

  • Remind employees of available time off, including mental health days to help them cope with the change a layoff creates.
  • Recognize employees’ hard work and commitment to achieving individual and team goals.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to your employees’ development and career goals through mentoring and one-on-one discussions about their future.

3. Lead with Empathy

Layoffs can trigger a range of emotions in employees, including fear, stress, anxiety, and even survivor’s guilt, which can strike one in three employees who remain after a layoff. However, employees can manage those emotions more effectively when they have empathy and support from their manager and the broader organization. 

Sometimes all it takes to show empathy is listening to employees’ concerns and acknowledging their feelings and experiences. You can also periodically check in with employees and make sure they’re aware of company resources like the employee assistance program (EAP) and mental health benefits.

It’s also critical to acknowledge the impact of a layoff on employee behavior and performance. A Leadership IQ study found that 74% of employees who survive a layoff experience a drop in productivity. So show some empathy by setting reasonable and attainable goals. It can go a long way in keeping employees motivated and engaged rather than stressed and close to burnout.

Restore Employee Engagement after a Layoff

Even in the best of times, it can be a challenge to deliver an employee experience that keeps your workforce engaged. A layoff only makes it harder. However, by staying close to employees and supporting them through tough times, you can move on from a layoff and cultivate an engaged and productive workforce.

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