How to show appreciation for employees after layoffs

Carolina Gomez

Growth Hacker

There is no way around it – layoffs suck. 

Layoffs happen for a myriad of reasons. From economic downturns to company restructuring, many employees are impacted by layoffs at some point during their careers.  

While laid-off employees (unfortunately) take the brunt of the impact, the effects of mass layoffs (or even smaller ones) can be far-reaching. Everyone is affected, from the leaders responsible for making the tough decisions and breaking the news, to the employees remaining after the fact.

As a result, layoffs can have a major impact on employee morale and confidence in you as their employer.

As more and more companies are experiencing layoffs, what can you do to carve out the best path forward for your team? 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to show employee appreciation and rebuild team culture post-layoffs. By showing a little grace and prioritizing your employees, you and your team will be able to put your best foot forward.

What to do after layoffs

Take a deep breath – the difficult part might be behind you. But the work is just beginning.

As you wrap up the paperwork and administrative details, it’s important to shift gears and prioritize re-engaging your current employees. 

Unaffected employees might still be employed, but as high as 74% say that their productivity declined post-layoffs. The same study also found that more than two-thirds say that their company’s product or service also declined. 

So while eliminating a portion of your workforce may have been necessary to right the ship, you’ll continue to experience issues if you don’t repair your relationship with your teams. 

Here are some things you need to do after your company goes through layoffs.

Create trust and acknowledge emotions

Employees who remain after layoffs are in a difficult position. They’ve seen friends and colleagues lose their jobs, so they’re likely experiencing a whole host of emotions. For example:

  • Anger that you’ve opted to eliminate their coworkers.
  • Frustration that this was the only solution.
  • Guilt that they were employed but others aren’t.
  • Stress due to the uncertainty of what’s to come.

No matter what they’re experiencing, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and emotions. If possible, offer support networks or other opportunities for teams to work through these feelings.

Even as those emotions settle, in the process you’ve likely lost a lot of trust from your employees. So it’s critical that you start to rebuild it.

Be transparent and acknowledge the situation

Addressing layoffs is difficult. But the worst thing you can do is pretend it didn’t happen.

Whether it’s sending a formal email or hosting a community forum, it’s important that leadership acknowledges the situation. It’s also critical that it happens in a timely fashion – sooner rather than later.

As much as possible, make sure to address the following in this stage of the process:

  • Why did the layoffs need to happen? Whether it’s cash flow, contract issues, or simply poor planning, it’s important your employees understand why it was necessary.
  • What’s next? From organizational changes to employee roles, set expectations to help your team feel confident in the path forward.
  • Offer safe spaces for communication and feedback. 
  • Regroup on your company mission. As teams move forward, everyone needs to be aligned. Take this time to restate and reinforce your organization's mission. It will give teams a sense of purpose so they feel that their work is still meaningful – despite the changes.

Transparency during this time of transition can go a long way in rebuilding the trust and relationship that you have with your employees. 

Rebalance the workload

Most of the time, eliminating people doesn’t necessarily equate to reducing the work that needs to be completed. More often than not, it means remaining employees are left to pick up the slack.

Let’s be honest, burnout is a concern among teams in the best of times. It has a significant impact on employee mental and physical health. This can lead them to feel unappreciated and become increasingly demotivated.

Add in layoffs, and employees are going to be even less inclined to take on additional work. They’re often faced with the mindset, “If the work needed to get done, then maybe you shouldn’t have let people go.”

Take the time to re-evaluate workloads across your organization. Where there aren't adequate resources to tackle work, it’s important to prioritize so employees don’t feel like they’re drowning as a result of the layoffs.

Prioritize employee development 

Layoffs can cause remaining employees to experience job insecurity. Whether they’re concerned about the company’s future or simply feeling dejected as a result of the layoffs.

Managers and leaders should prioritize employee career development and improving self-esteem during this critical time. If employees are feeling a lack of motivation and hope about their future at your organization, they’re less likely to be engaged.

Boost employee engagement in your company by offering opportunities for professional growth and development. Are there roles and opportunities for growth with the change in organizational structure? Or are there ways to offer workshops, training, and mentorship to remaining team members?

Showing your commitment to employee growth is key to improving motivation.

Show appreciation for employees

If this isn’t something you do already, now is the time to embrace a culture of employee appreciation.

In a post-layoff environment, there are many ways to recognize your employees and the effort that they’re putting in.

Notes of praise and recognition 

We always say a simple thank you can go a long way.

In all likelihood, rewards and gestures that come at a high cost are off the table during tumultuous times. But even showing verbal appreciation and praise for your employees can make them feel more valued.

There are many times when appreciation is best provided privately, but visible recognition can also be beneficial – particularly when it comes to increasing motivation in the workplace. Public shoutouts can inspire employees, build a culture of recognition, and improve morale,

But appreciation shouldn’t only come from leaders and managers. Use tools like Evergreen to make peer-to-peer recognition a core part of your team’s workflows.

Set up a formal recognition program

Another way to show appreciation is by building a formal recognition program. The structured format of recognition can help incentivize and motivate employees. It not only reinforces employee motivation but helps encourage a culture of appreciation.
You can set things like milestones (like employee anniversaries or performance goals) and the types of recognition that they can achieve along the way. Recognition can range anywhere from shoutouts and kudos to larger incentives, like bonuses and gifts.

As you build out new programs post-layoffs, make sure to take employee feedback into consideration. They’re the best resource to help you create a recognition program that actually resonates.

Support those who were laid off

While they may no longer be your employees, take a moment to recognize the folks who have been laid off.

Where you can, offer support to help with their transition. This can include compiling lists of resumes to share with other talent acquisition teams or It’s a simple act that recognizes their efforts while they were with your company. 

How you treat your ex-staff isn’t lost on your employees and can also help rebuild motivation among the remaining staff.

It shows that even though you needed to make a tough decision, you still appreciated their previous teammates. It can give them confidence going forward, knowing that employee well-being is still a core part of your company culture.

Offer benefits and flexibility

The little things that bothered employees before are likely to be magnified after a round of layoffs. Whether it’s having to come to the office or stringent work policies, the layoffs could be the final straw that causes valued team members to jump ship.
This is a great time to review your policies and benefits to see where you can offer employees additional flexibility. Studies have shown that offering flexibility can improve productivity and increase employee happiness.

Consider implementing things like flexible working arrangements or working hours to help accommodate employee needs and preferences. It shows that you trust your employees and they’ll appreciate that you’re putting their needs first.

Build a system of recognition with Evergreen

Layoffs are challenging for everyone involved. As the landscape continues to change, it’s likely that we’ll see more layoffs headed our way.  

While these tough decisions aren’t always avoidable, you can control how your company responds. By prioritizing employee appreciation, your team can better weather the storm.

Whether you’ve recently gone through layoffs or not, employee recognition can help increase motivation at work. Evergreen is a peer-to-peer engagement platform that helps companies seamlessly increase employee recognition.

Sign up today for your free 14-day trial and start showing employee appreciation today.

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