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How to Maintain Employee Engagement After Layoffs

Layoffs are tough, and surviving employees often need extra support. Here are a few ways to provide that.

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Layoffs at Tesla, Google, Apple, and many more have all made the news recently, with some former employees taking to social media to discuss their experiences. In one LinkedIn post, ex-Google employee Matt Hu details the moment he discovered that his employer had terminated his role: 

“I went downstairs and opened up my laptop. That was 21:00. I got a weird email saying ‘Your Cloudtop StopInstance operation has begun’ and I suddenly recalled I just had the Cloudtop maintenance a few days back; it couldn’t be a scheduled task, there is definitely something bad happening. I even ‘Momaed’ (Google’s internal search engine) ‘what stopinstance means’ and I did get the results from the website, so I chose not to believe I was leaving the company. Thus I had the longest five minutes in my life, witnessing how I lost corp access one website by another, with a forced laptop reboot, then finally, an email saying ‘Notice regarding your employment.’” 

For Matt’s colleagues or layoff survivors from any organization, it’s no surprise that losing colleagues can be shocking, worrying, and provoking. Ultimately, this can impact the engagement and productivity of anyone left behind. 

So, how can organizations support their remaining workforce after layoffs? This guide outlines a few ways to boost employee morale and keep everyone aligned with your company’s goals. 

What does disengagement look like and what can employers do?

We all know employee engagement is important, but it can also feel intangible. How do you know when your workers are struggling, and what can you do about it? Some signs of disengagement following a spate of layoffs include: 

  • Absenteeism: Disengaged employees may frequently call in sick or are late to work.
  • Lack of communication: Misunderstandings and conflicts can occur when employees don’t freely share information with peers and managers.  
  • Negative attitude: A toxic work environment may form if employees display a negative attitude toward their work and colleagues. 
  • Poor work output: When people lose interest in their roles, the quality of work suffers. 
  • Low productivity: 74% of remaining employees report feeling less productive after layoffs. 
  • High turnover: Significant changes to team functions, job titles, or workloads can frustrate current employees, leading to increased turnover rates. 

Leaders who recognize any of the above can get ahead of the situation and make positive changes to improve employee satisfaction and loyalty to the company. This focus on engagement allows them to:

  • Anticipate departures: Stay interviews are a chance to identify who might have itchy feet. Leaders can introduce retention strategies to keep turnover in check or reallocate resources in the case of probable resignations.   
  • Prioritize transparency: Changing your approach to internal communications helps employees make sense of the situation and ask clarifying questions. 
  • Implement extra support: Offering employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health resources, or additional training helps remaining employees cope with the changes and workload.

Prioritize working relationships

Positive coworker relationships encourage employees to take more pride in their work, collaborate on projects, and volunteer their time when needed, so it’s crucial to plunge resources into rebuilding your teams after a layoff. 

As a creative solution, many organizations use flexible stipends to incentivize get-togethers and team bonding. Tech company Automox implemented AX Connect, which is designed to foster professional and social connections among employees. A fun feature is built right into Slack called “random coffee” where employees are paired for a physical or virtual coffee date they can pay for with funds from their Benepass lifestyle spending account

Muck Rack, the standard in public relations software, also offers a stipend that employees can use every two weeks to get a meal or coffee with a coworker virtually or in person. 

“We’re seeing photos of people connecting, collaborating, and bonding shared in real time on Slack,” shared Erica Raphael, VP of People. “It’s a simple way to compel the team to take the time to connect and create those relationships that come naturally from working closely with a team. It’s been such a treat to watch friendships grow.” 

Support mental health

While layoffs undoubtedly impact the mental health of any terminated employee and their families, it’s common for surviving employees to experience a range of emotions, including: 


Team members may be stunned that their colleagues are no longer working with them and that the company needs to make cuts. Shock and concern about the financial stability and future of the business are byproducts of layoff decisions, and it can take time for leaders to reassure and convince employees that everything will be okay. 

Fear and insecurity

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs asserts that safety and security are foundational to humans’ basic needs. Unsurprisingly, your employees may feel anxious that their name may be next on the layoff casualty list. While some workers may work extra hard to improve their chances of survival, others’ insecurities will cause them to seek employment elsewhere. 


Leaders love their team members to forge strong connections with each other to encourage a positive work environment and collaboration. The downside is that when layoffs occur, these relationships are cut short, and an inevitable mourning period occurs as peers come to terms with what’s happened. 


Emotional exhaustion can lead to feelings of “what’s the point?” among your remaining employees. If there’s a general vibe that the company is going down the pan or that leaders have made unfair or unwise decisions, it’s easy for your survivors to lack enthusiasm. 


Last but not least, some employees will be actively outraged by the layoff news. Some will speak out about C-suite members’ high-paying salaries and bonuses that should have been cut to retain the terminated employees. Others will be exasperated about taking on their ex-teammates’ workloads. 

Giving your employees time to process all the emotions associated with layoffs and restructuring is important. Employers can support their workers by offering: 

Build an employee-led culture

All organizations must make difficult decisions from time to time, but implementing an employee-led culture enables employers to align with the needs, wants, and goals of their workforce. Employees who feel prioritized and believe in their company’s values are less likely to look for a new employer, even in times of immense change.  

1. Adapt to your new organizational strategy 

After any type of restructuring, the first step in rebuilding your culture is ensuring your strategy is still relevant. With a different headcount, departments, and capabilities, tailoring your efforts toward your new normal is critical. For example, you may need to invest time in building rapport between merged teams or addressing new skills gaps. 

2. Offer strong communication 

Communication during mass layoffs is critical to reduce anxiety across your workforce. This is a time to be transparent about why the layoffs occurred, who was impacted, and how the layoffs will affect the company in the future. 

Always offer employees the opportunity to ask questions. HR teams can host regular office hours where employees can voice their concerns and ideas. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can foster trust with your employees and demonstrate that you’re mindful of their experience and want to support them. 

3. Gather employee sentiment 

Survey your workforce to gauge overall sentiments following the mass layoffs. Employee engagement surveys provide a pulse check on how employees feel about the company, their work, and their team. Ideally, you’ll have collected this information before the layoffs, providing an illuminating data comparison. 

In either case, the survey responses will identify improvements you can consider to increase employee engagement. For example, you may wish to bolster your benefits offering, enabling your employees to care for their wellbeing and be more productive at work. 

Benepass tip: Remember to follow up on your employee engagement survey results. It’s not enough to collect bucketloads of data and then sit on it. Employees need to believe the company is invested in improving their employee experience. Why? They won’t fill out your survey next time if they think you’re mindlessly going through the motions. 

4. Involve your employees in your decision-making

Where possible, involve your workforce in key decisions that impact them. For example, if you wish to make a decision on flexible working or how to adapt your office space, consult your employees and consider their ideas and suggestions. These small actions can make a huge difference in creating an employee-led culture and instilling a sense of ownership and empowerment within your team members. 

5. Embrace flexible work arrangements 

Even in a climate of layoffs and economic uncertainties, employees have strong feelings about returning to the office. LiveCareer found that 34% of people are more afraid of working in an office full-time than having $10,000 stolen. To prevent a third of your remaining workforce from quitting your organization and creating further disruption, consider flexible work arrangements such as: 

  • Remote or hybrid work: Focusing on what your employees accomplish rather than where it takes place
  • Compressed workweeks: Allowing employees to work longer hours over a shorter number of days to be rewarded with a longer weekend 
  • Flexible hours: Enabling employees to select their own hours at a time that suits them 
  • Unlimited PTO: Providing your people with as much time off as they need so they don’t experience the push and pull between work and home 

6. Offer opportunities for professional development

After layoffs, employees may struggle with motivation if they can’t visualize a future at your company. Investing in your employees’ career development ensures employees feel committed to their professional growth. Providing professional development benefits is one way to show your remaining employees that you still care about their career trajectories at the company. Some options include: 

  • Professional development stipends: Employees choose from a range of training, coaching, or networking opportunities.
  • Tuition reimbursements: Employees claim back the cost of formal certifications from their employers. 
  • Mentoring: Experienced professionals are matched with junior employees to support them in meeting their career goals. 
  • Job shadowing: Employees experience job rotations around the company, providing insights into different roles and picking up new skills along the way. 

7. Recognize and reward employees

Employee morale may be at an all-time low following layoffs. Anything your company can do to recognize your employees’ hard work and achievements will improve employee engagement. Implementing an employee recognition program can make employees feel appreciated and motivated to continue doing great work for the company. 

Employee recognition programs can be achievement-based, tenure-based, or value-based. Regardless of structure, it’s important to offer employees flexible rewards they can use according to their lifestyles and personal preferences. 

8. Commit to employee offboarding 

After making cuts, it’s common to lose a few extra employees through voluntary departures. 17% of workers are more likely to quit the organization when a close friend has departed, meaning you may experience a ripple of discontent after your layoff decisions. 

Each employee who leaves your company represents an opportunity to learn more about their experience working for you. Be genuinely interested in their opinions by conducting structured exit interviews to explore their decision-making. This isn’t about changing their mind or engaging in conflict but about gaining valuable insights to shape your retention strategies for future employees. 

Benepass tip: Remember that departing employees can be vocal about their experience of your company. Protect your employer brand by making their offboarding smooth and frictionless so they leave the organization on a high note. 

9. Foster employee wellbeing 

People want to work for organizations that respect their employees, even during times of change. Offering benefits such as wellness stipends and lifestyle spending accounts demonstrates that your organization cares about their overall physical and mental health needs and understands the stressful impact of layoffs.   

Example: Mindbody is a global software-as-a-service company providing cloud-based online scheduling and other business management software for the wellness services industry. They built a comprehensive wellness program with Benepass that offers mental health and mindfulness support. Mindbody employees spend funds on therapy and counseling, mental health apps, coaching, relationship therapy, and meditation. The program has engaged 89% of employees to date. 

“Benepass allowed us to close the gap between ‘meat and potatoes’ benefits like health insurance and offer a new self-care component,” said Mia Valunte, Benefits Manager.

Track key engagement metrics

Following layoffs, it’s more important than ever to track employee engagement metrics closely to recognize if there is a need to implement new strategies designed to stem turnover. Disengaged employees also cost the global economy $8.8 trillion, so even in the absence of high turnover, monitoring key indicators of disengagement is a good idea. Keep an eye on the following metrics: 

1. Turnover and retention rates

Monitoring turnover and retention rates can help you spot an exodus and explore strategies for increasing employee satisfaction and engagement among employees who naturally fear for their job security.  

Measure it: Calculate turnover over a specific period by dividing the number of employees who left by the average total number of employees and multiplying by 100. Calculate retention by subtracting your turnover rate from 100%. 

2. Absenteeism

While some absenteeism is good and healthy for employees, too many days off can indicate significant issues with health and wellness, difficulties with work-life balance, or “quiet quitting” and dissatisfaction. 

Measure it: The rate of absenteeism can be measured by dividing the number of absent days by the number of working days in a given period and multiplying by 100 for a percentage. 

3. Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS)

Use employee surveys to monitor how net promoter scores change in the months following a layoff. These surveys explore how likely employees are to recommend your organization as a place to work to a friend or colleague. A strong eNPS indicates that your employees feel fulfilled, autonomous, and productive within their roles. 

Measure it: Use an eNPS scale of 1-10 as follows: 

  • Promoters score 9-10
  • Passives score 7-8
  • Detractors score 6 or below

4. Glassdoor rating 

Some employees impacted by layoffs leave poor reviews on Glassdoor and cause your company’s rating and employer brand to plummet. 

Measure it: Navigate to Glassdoor.com and check your overall rating. Reading through individual reviews may reveal things that employees were secretly unhappy about so you can make changes that improve satisfaction among your remaining employees.

5. Customer satisfaction ratings

Highly engaged employees are proud of their company and want customers to have the best possible experience. Studies prove a direct correlation between a company’s Glassdoor rating and customer satisfaction scores, so it’s crucial to avoid a nosedive in either following layoffs. 

Measure it: Score customer satisfaction by conducting surveys, monitoring online reviews, and tracking metrics such as customer retention rates.  

Engage your employees with Benepass

Benepass is a flexible benefits platform that puts your people at the heart of your company culture. We provide a wide range of benefits designed to engage and retain your employees. These include:

  • Wellbeing and lifestyle benefits
  • Family and childcare support 
  • Commuter and remote working benefits 
  • Professional development  
  • Food allowances 
  • Reward and recognition programs

Interested in supporting your team with stronger benefits during periods of change? Book a free Benepass demo or contact sales@getbenepass.com to connect with a benefits specialist. 

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Rebecca Noori

Rebecca Noori is a freelance HR Tech and SaaS writer who is obsessed with our world of work. She writes about everything from employee benefits and performance management to upskilling and productivity tips. When she's not writing, you'll find her grappling with phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids.

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