When the economy suffers a downturn, many companies are forced to make mass layoffs if they want to survive these turbulent times. As well as large technology corporations such as Amazon and Netflix making mass layoffs, smaller firms often have to let go of employees too – so what’s the best way for employers to support staff during this period?

Who Needs The Support?

Those employees who are in the firing line, whose jobs are affected by the mass layoffs, need support from their employers to ensure the process of being made redundant is as smooth and painless as possible. However, mass layoffs also impact those employees who aren’t made redundant, the team members who continue to work at the business, as they will inevitably start to feel that their jobs are under threat now. 

It’s a demanding time for employers because they must ensure they provide sufficient support to the employees being laid off as well as to those individuals who are staying in their jobs. 

When someone is made redundant, they often start to worry about whether the decision is personal – did they do something wrong or not fulfil their role in its entirety? Likewise, for those who survive the round of redundancies, they might develop a fear that they’ll be next to lose their job or suffer from survivors’ guilt and feel bad that they haven’t lost their job when so many have. 

Employers need to show empathy and kindness to those being laid off whilst making sure those staying behind feel valued and know they are supported in their roles. 

Support With Honesty 

By being honest with everyone involved and affected by the redundancies, employers make the experience more positive and are able to demonstrate that they care for all their staff and value them as individuals. 

It’s vital that employees understand why the mass layoffs are happening. Employers should explain the reason for the redundancies – that they’re triggered by severe economic conditions or by global events such as the covid pandemic, which force the firm to make cost savings or to restructure the business in order for the company to survive.

This strategy is supportive for all – it eases the process for those making the decision, those delivering the decision, those receiving the decision, and those staying on at the company. 

Talk openly about what exactly is happening and why. Explain why some employees are being laid off while offers are staying – and for those staying, make it clear if their roles are changing or staying the same. People respond well to honesty and like being told the truth. 

Support With Sharing

Engage and share with those employees staying behind at the company. 

Ask them what they want to happen next in their job and whether they would like to move into another role as part of the company restructuring. Engagement shows you respect your employees and listen to their needs and wants, which breeds trust and loyalty over time. This approach will also help to calm any anxieties over job security. 

Share what happens with the redundancies too, detailing the process for those affected. Highlight any help the company is offering to staff laid off, including severance packages, career advice, and how many are being furloughed and how many laid off. It’s also sensible to explain that the majority of those being made redundant will find a new job or enjoy using the opportunity to make a career change. The HR department of the company will do all it can to support those made redundant, supplying references when needed as well as career guidance. 

This demonstrates that you are handling the redundancies well and treating those affected by the layoffs with kindness and respect. All remaining staff will appreciate knowing that everyone leaving the company does so on the best possible terms, as well as understanding the situation for those remaining in the team. 

Support With Respect  

For those left behind who may be feeling insecure or guilty that they were the ones to survive when others didn’t, employers need to reassure them that their jobs are safe and there is a reason why their roles remain. Tell remaining employees what difference they make to the company and why they are valued – this will lead to a healthier company culture. 

A positive company culture, in turn, leads to a happier workforce and a team of employees who want to work for the company and progress whenever possible. The power of feeling valued, respected and listened to, should not be underestimated and by treating people well following a mass layoff, the remaining employees are far more likely to want to work hard and do a good job. 

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