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Layoffs, Wellbeing

5 ways to re-engage your team after layoffs

Engage your teams at work

There are few events more disruptive for an organization than layoffs. However well planned, the people remaining in your business feel displaced and disengaged: they’re facing shifting reporting lines, new team dynamics, and changing responsibilities.

The impact layoffs have on exiting employees will – and should be – a huge focus for leadership during this time. Providing support and solutions is paramount. But the huge psychological toll on remaining teams must also be addressed. 

Minimizing long term disruption following a round of layoffs is critical to your ongoing success. Avoiding low engagement is the best way to off-set the damages: here are five places to start re-engaging your teams.

  1. Invest in your leadership

Layoffs bring complex challenges to your leadership team. Whether they’re part of the C-Suite or a first-time manager, developing a solid leadership toolkit benefits not only the individuals, but everyone they interact with. 

Critical leadership skills, like clarity of communication and effective delegation, massively reduce the negative impacts of layoffs on your remaining teams. When you engage your team by aligning them with leadership, and help them understand what the new normal looks like, performance will organically improve.

  1. Avoid ‘burnout culture’

The burden of additional work is disheartening in the wake of layoffs. Your remaining people are picking up ongoing projects, taking on new responsibilities, and trying to achieve more with less. 

They’ll feel increased pressure to deliver and appear high-performing due to fear of a second round of layoffs. But the added workload and perceived demand to perform rapidly leads to burnout.

Avoid overloading teams by addressing the risks of burnout head on. Ensure managers are discussing workload and prioritization in 1:1s, create a culture where asking for help is encouraged, and allow people breathing space to adjust to the new way of working. 

  1. Address survivor’s guilt head on

It’s common for remaining teams to experience survivor’s guilt; a complex mix of gratitude that they kept their job, and sadness for their departing colleagues and friends. Unsurprisingly, this anxiety is not conducive to productivity, and output drops by 20% immediately following layoffs.

Be as transparent as you can about the layoffs; understanding the cause, and the criteria, can help eliminate feelings of guilt for departed colleagues.

  1. Take time to teambuild

After layoffs, team dynamics shift beyond recognition: for people who view workplace relationships as central to their career, layoffs are an enormous blow. Giving teams space to network and socialize allows new bonds to be formed, and people will adjust more quickly.

Consider neurodivergent colleagues, and cultural differences in your team. ‘Team building’ is not just taking your team for Friday drinks; for some, that’s hugely off putting. Team building also looks like: 

  • Focused creative problem solving
  • A 15 minute coffee chat
  • Volunteering
  1. Reinforce your ‘why’

Connecting work with purpose eliminates feelings of uncertainty and gives your people a sense of meaning. Re-centre your company purpose, vision, and values to align teams, and ensure you’re sharing success stories – from new client wins to great internal feedback.

Engage your team by reinforcing company vision and values; reminding everyone what the overarching goal is and what you’re all working towards is sure to inspire your people and gain buy-in. 

Layoffs are always complicated. Find out more about the hidden costs of layoffs in our guide