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How to Reassure Remaining Employees After Layoffs

Palmer Barefield Jan 4, 2023 1:30:00 PM

You have been chugging along all year, but you have come to the conclusion that your numbers just are not where they should be; forcing you to resort to layoffs. It is a tough situation for both parties. You have no choice but to make these cuts so you can salvage your business, but at the same time, you do not want to be the reason your employees lose their jobs. Layoffs are a last resort, and while they might be the only way to save your business, if not handled delicately, they could also be the reason it fails. 

The importance of supporting surviving employees

As if layoffs are not unfortunate enough, the impact that layoffs have on the surviving employees quickly becomes a concern.  When layoffs happen, they take a hit on a company’s culture.  Nothing says “the company is in trouble” like layoffs, which leaves remaining employees to question where their job stands. Even worse, it burdens them with layoff survivor guilt, all of which threatens the overall company culture.  


Layoff survivor guilt happens when an employee feels guilty or responsible for a colleague getting laid off, although it was not their fault. Even if your employees are 100% loyal to your business, losing a colleague that was close to them might cause them to harbor a large amount of layoff survivor guilt. This feeling can leave employees feeling anxious that their job is in jeopardy, angry that their colleague is no longer their co-worker, and concerned that they have to pick up the slack of members getting laid off. 

Either way, it is important to address all of these concerns as a leader. Without a sufficient amount of acknowledgment and attention, your culture will suffer and engagement will plummet. In addition to your company’s culture and engagement being affected, perhaps the most destructive consequence of layoffs is the effect it has on turnover. Often, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And layoffs create concern among those around them, causing them to doubt their current situation, ultimately resulting in a hefty boost in turnover. In fact, research suggests that layoffs predicted an increase in employee turnover. If that’s not bad enough, the cost of employee turnover is extremely expensive. 

Do’s and Don'ts of communicating a layoff

Supporting your employees is the key to powering through layoffs and preventing employee turnover. It's important to consider the toll taken on everyone involved and to approach the situation with extreme care. And of course, as with any delicate situation, there are do’s and there are don’ts. 

Surviving layoffs infographic


Communicate Effectively and Proactively

Provide your employees with the information necessary for them to understand the situation. Communicate that these layoffs were not an easy decision, but one you had to come to terms with in order to move forward as a business. Be sure to reassure them that they are invaluable to the business’s success. When you are open and honest about the negative and positive situations that arise, it will allow your employees to be prepared without blind-siding them, which will foster their trust within you and within the organization. 

Offer help to those that were laid off

Facing a layoff is a daunting experience for both employees and employers. However, for employees, it entails preparing to tackle a full-time task: the search for a new job. Having a leader that is willing to offer assistance in their job search speaks volumes to them and to your remaining employees. Offer references when requested and connect them with resources in your network that might be looking to hire. 

Create a plan of action

Layoffs shine a spotlight on pre-existing challenges that led to your business’s downfall. The key to getting things back on track is being honest with your team about what went wrong. Provide a detailed plan of action to resolve what caused the layoff and create proactive measures to avoid having the situation arise again in the future. 


Avoid questions

If an employee (remaining or laid off) comes to you with questions about your decision, it is important to address those questions immediately and directly. If your response is not done in a timely manner, employees could speculate and form their own opinions, leading to rumors and resentment. Likewise, if you passed down the question to a manager to answer, it could make employees feel that you do not care enough to address them personally, or the answer might be translated incorrectly. 

Conceal the reason for the layoffs

Whatever the reason was that brought you to them, layoffs cannot be hidden. If not openly communicated, employees will take it upon themselves to hypothesize what went wrong. Whether they do or do not figure out the reason, not having a clear understanding of what caused the layoffs will put their trust and loyalty in jeopardy.

Supporting the Survivors: What Employers Can Do

By now, you know that supporting your employees through this difficult time is paramount in reviving your business. Employees want to feel secure in their job and to know that opportunities for growth in their careers remain. Following the tips below will help your employees feel confident in the potential of your company. 

Encourage curiosity

Be prepared to answer some potentially difficult questions, but at the same time, try to be empathetic and understand the concerns of your employees. This is not an easy journey for anyone, so it is important to remind your leaders that you are a team and will get through this together. 

Be transparent and concise

As mentioned above, it is crucial to be transparent about what is going on with the business. After all, your employees depend on this business to support their families, and that should not be taken lightly. 

Allow for opportunities for growth

Now that somewhat of a reorganization has taken place, encourage your employees to take on challenges that they might not have had the chance to do beforehand. According to a recent study, 76% of employees are looking for opportunities to expand their careers. Find ways to invest in their skills, such as leadership coaching, so they can rise as professionals and provide your business with innovative solutions. 

Check in often

By supporting your employees and checking in on how they are feeling, they will know that their well-being is a priority to you and to your business.  

Showing Your Employees You Care with Coaching

At the end of the day, your employees are what keep your business moving forward. Showing them how much they are valued by investing in their development is not only a way to exemplify your appreciation, but also a way to up-level your organization. Investing in leadership coaching, such as Valor Performance coaching, provides an external viewpoint that offers new skills and that challenges leaders to grow personally and professionally. 

Layoffs are no picnic. But if handled with the right care and consideration, your organization can make lemonade out of lemons. With avenues like performance coaching, your business will have everything necessary to come out on top, while your employees will develop skills that hold value in both their personal and professional lives. Schedule a demo to learn more about what Valor Performance coaching can do for your organization.  


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