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Maintaining Employee Engagement After Layoffs

The biggest impact of a layoff is on those let go.  But what about the team that remains?


The best leaders understand the role they have in caring for and rebuilding their team after a layoff.

Here are 6 tips for keeping your team engaged after a layoff event.

Engaged After Layoffs
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The biggest impact of a layoff is on those let go.  But what about the team that remains?


The best leaders understand the role they have in caring for and rebuilding their team after a layoff.


I've been a "survivor" of 3 different rounds of layoffs (all different teams & companies).


Each time I was hit with the weight of reality, guilt, and uncertainty.


Will my former teammates be ok? Am I at risk?  How will this impact my work? How do I lead a team in the interim while they decide on a new leadership structure? Do I even like this job enough to push through the uncertainty?


Each time, I quickly moved from high-performing/highly engaged to WTF!?/disengaged


The way my leaders handled the situations varied drastically, and so did the impact and length of time I was in the WTF phase.


I've supported "reductions in force" and been indirectly impacted by them multiple times.


Here are some practical things that can make a difference for your team.


#1 - Don't Hide

Communicate clearly and often

Meet with your team ASAP (individually and as a group). Explain what happened, how it impacts them, and allow time for questions. Remember that what you say and how you say it are equally important. Consider your message, tone, and timing.

#2 - You Probably Won't Have All The Answers

Answer what you can then capture a list of questions to follow up on.

Try this tip for communicating categories for how you'll respond to questions:

  • Those I can answer right now

  • Those I can answer later today after following up with others

  • Those we'll find the answers to together over time

  • Those that require input from others- I can share over time as I have answers or more to discuss.

#3 - Adapt Your Style

Adapt your style to your team's unique needs

Every person handles change differently and will have different needs. Ditch the one-size-fits all approach for one that seeks to understand each person’s needs and adapts accordingly.


The change curve is a popular model organizations can use to understand the different stages people go through when a change occurs and how to best support them. Here's a link to more info on the change curve.


Models and assessments can help you explore your own style and your team’s. One of my favorites is Everything DiSC. As an Authorized Partner, I can help you explore solutions that might be a fit.

Ask me about options for your team's DiSC assessment.

#4 - Expect & Respect

Expect and respect all the feelings that you and your team have through the change.

Acknowledge the wide range of emotions that your team may be feeling. Honor those feelings and psychological needs by giving them space, avoiding judgment, and asking how you can help. Look for

opportunities to provide: control and agency, connection, information, stability/safety.


During change and transition, most of us have heightened needs. Depending on the person they may have higher needs in some areas than others. Look for opportunities to provide:

Control & Agency

  1. A voice in the conversation

  2. Autonomy

  3. Channel for voicing grievances


Information & Understanding

Stability & Safety

#5 - Keep It Real

Keep it real and always tell the truth

People can tell when you're hiding something or not being completely honest. You're not doing anyone any favors by hiding/distorting. In fact, it usually backfires to cause feelings of distrust and disrespect. Instead, proactively communicate and answer questions as transparently and honestly as possible.


Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer yet.

We’re still figuring that out, but here’s what I do know _________.

I’ve been asked not to share that but will share it as soon as I can.

It’s not the choice I would have made, but I respect the person who made the choice and am willing to support it and provide ongoing feedback.

#6 - Prioritize

Prioritize and provide support

Change can be overwhelming and none of us are at 100% when we're grieving and overwhelmed. As your team transitions, prioritize the work that matters most, assign work equitably, and consider what support they need.

#7 - Actively Listen

Actively listen and check-in frequently

Offer opportunities to give feedback in group and 1:1 settings. Actively listening to a person’s thoughts and concerns validates their feelings and can help you understand the most important areas to take action. Engagement and pulse surveys like Sparck's #BeHeard survey can also be a great way to listen on an ongoing basis.

Ask me how Sparck's #BeHeard survey can help you understand what's most important to your team.

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