How to Support Your Remaining Employees After a Layoff
Layoffs are tough, and your remaining employees will need extra support. Here are a few ways to provide that.
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Layoffs at Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, IBM, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Philips, Vimeo, and more have all made the news recently, especially as many former employees have taken to LinkedIn to discuss their experiences.
It’s no surprise that layoffs negatively impact engagement and productivity. Studies indicate that 74% of remaining employees report feeling less productive after layoffs. It’s normal for employees to feel sad for their coworkers and nervous for their own futures. Significant changes to team functions, job titles, or workloads may also frustrate current employees, leading to increased rates of turnover.
How can organizations support their remaining workforce and keep them engaged after layoffs? Below we outline a few things your company can do to stem turnover in the wake of a round of layoffs.
Many employees report feeling “survivor’s guilt” or a sense of grief when a close colleague is fired. Positive coworker relationships are very important as building connections in the workplace encourages employees to take more pride in their work, collaborate on projects, and volunteer their time when it’s needed.
After a layoff, your organization might need to get creative to foster positive relationships among colleagues. Many organizations are using 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.”
Layoffs impact employees who aren’t laid off, too. They may feel nervous about the future of their job, concerned about finances, uncertain about their career trajectory, and report higher levels of anxiety.
People want to work for organizations that respect their employees, even during times of change. Offering mental health benefits to employees demonstrates that your organization cares about their overall well-being and understands the stressful impact of layoffs.
Tax-advantaged programs such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can help employees pay for eligible mental health expenses. Eligible costs often include therapy, prescriptions, apps, and acupuncture. Many companies also opt for a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), which is an employer-funded account that offers employees money to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. A lifestyle spending account (LSA) can also be designed to cover mental health support.
Mindbody is a global software-as-a-service company that provides 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. Among other items, employees can 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.
All organizations have to make difficult decisions from time to time, but implementing an employee-led culture can help employers 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.
Communication during periods of mass layoffs is critical to help reduce anxiety across your workforce. This is a time to be transparency about why the layoffs occurred, who was impacted, and how the layoffs will affect the company going forward.
You should also 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.
Following a period of mass layoffs, it’s worthwhile to survey your workforce to keep in touch with their overall sentiments. Employee engagement surveys can help you get a pulse check on how employees are feelings about the company and their work. They can help you assess areas where you can make improvements to increase employee engagement in the wake of a layoff. For example, maybe stronger benefits would help your employees take care of their well-being and be more productive when they come to work.
Just don’t forget to follow up on your employee engagement survey results. Employees will want to see that your company is making a real effort to improve the employee experience, not just going through the motions.
After layoffs, employees may struggle with motivation and productivity. Investing in your employees’ career development can help employees feel more committed to their professional growth. Providing professional development benefits is one way to show your remaining employees that you still care about their professional futures and career trajectories at the company.
Employee morale may be at all-time low following layoffs. Anything that your company can do to recognize your employees’ hard work and achievements will help improve employee engagement. Implementing an employee recognition program can make your 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.
Following layoffs, it’ll be more important than ever to track employee engagement metrics closely so you can recognize if there is a need to implement new strategies designed to stem turnover. Disengaged employees also cost U.S. organizations between $450-$550 billion each year, so even in the absence of high turnover it’s a good idea to monitor key indicators of disengagement.
Keep an eye on the following metrics:
Remaining employees may fear for their job security following layoffs, leading to a period of increased turnover as employees search for roles that provide more job security. Monitoring turnover and retention rates can help you spot an exodus and explore strategies for increasing employee satisfaction and engagement.
The rate of absenteeism can be measured by dividing the number of absent days by the number of working days in a given period. 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.
If your company runs regular employee surveys, you should monitor how net promoter scores change in the months following a layoff. These surveys ask how likely employees are to recommend your organization as a place to work to a friend or colleague. Generally, companies measure eNPS on a scale of 1-10 with promoters being those that offer a score of 9-10, passives providing 7-8, and detractors giving a rating of 6 or below. A strong eNPS indicates that your employees feel fulfilled, autonomous, and productive within their roles.
It’s possible that employees who are impacted by layoffs leave poor reviews on Glassdoor and cause your company’s Glassdoor rating to plummet. But the reviews can also highlight opportunities for improvement. Checking on your overall rating and 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.
Employees who are highly engaged are proud of their company and want customers to have the best possible experience. A Gallup study showed that a two-point increase in employee engagement leads to a one-point increase in customer satisfaction. It’s crucial to ensure that you aren’t seeing a nosedive in customer satisfaction following layoffs.