After a layoff, your leadership team may be breathing a sigh of relief that nothing major fell apart in the process. You may also feel like the remaining team members are the cream of the crop, and more than qualified to keep the ball rolling, maybe even more efficiently than ever.
But did you consider this?
A recent study by RiseSmart found that almost half (43%) of companies are not prepared for the loss of productivity and decreased employee satisfaction after layoffs.
The fact of the matter is this: not only are those team members who’ve been let go experiencing the aftermath, but those remaining must deal with their own emotions while continuing to work and trying to adapt to the new culture of the company. You may think they will acclimate over time, and many will, but the truth is that these employees have experienced a little “t” trauma. And those left behind in the office after colleagues have been let go may experience symptoms of trauma and feel invisible if you don’t address how they’ve been impacted.
It’s up to you to help your employees after these kind of big changes – because these changes affect morale and productivity. And you have a responsibility to keep the business functioning and create a workplace where they want to work.
Recognize How the Changes Impact Your Team
Communicate with those left behind; don’t rush off to the boardroom to map out the company’s future. Give as much detail as you can, and customize it to each team, department, or individual. Let them know how their roles have changed, any modification in responsibilities, new goals and objectives, and invite them to share their thoughts and concerns.
HINT: Try to maintain some processes/procedures from before the layoff; changing everything familiar to your team can be overwhelming and may lead some members to want to leave.
Make a Personal Connection
Meet with team members individually, whenever possible, and let them know why they were chosen to stay. Allow them to experience the range of emotions which come after a traumatic experience—this builds trust and shows you care about their experience. This also gives you an opportunity to assess how they are processing the event and if they’re at risk for trauma symptoms.
Help Employees See the Larger Picture
Remind employees about the company’s mission and values and how this change fits in with that. If there’s been a major shift due to a layoff/merger, let the team members know the main points to help get them on board. Allow employees to share some personal goals and plan how you can all work together to reach them.
There will undoubtedly be a transition period where employees feel lost and/or overwhelmed with the changes. Let them know you support them through this time and give them a timeframe to adjust to the new workload. Offer training if their responsibilities have drastically changed.
Arrange for reviews at specific points in the process (30, 60, 90 days). This helps you to gauge how they are doing, both productively and emotionally, and provides employees with specific opportunities to share their feelings about the process with you. Remember that you are investing in your company’s future, both in your individual members and the new team you are leading.
Embrace Your New Company Structure
With a smaller team, you can focus even more on the individual. Let them know their presence is valued and appreciated. Give them space to be creative. Hear their voices about how to make the company a better place to work. Give them confidence in their ability to meet the new job description, they can trust in their leaders to support them, and the revised team can meet the company’s goals. You never know—a traumatic event like a layoff can revive your remaining team into a group filled with industry rock stars!