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3 tips to navigate employee wellbeing during mass layoffs

November 28, 2022 |

You’ve seen it in the headlines. 

Meta lays off 13% of workforce

Stripe lays off 14% of workforce

Lyft lays off 13% of workforce

Twitter lays off 50% of workforce

…and more coming

It’s not just big tech. In fact, new data shows nearly 50% of U.S. companies have or are planning to reduce their workforce. 

From layoffs to hiring freezes, the escalating news of a seemingly unstable corporate world is leaving employees everywhere on the defense. 

Instead of talent acquisition, HR professionals have shifted focus to retaining their existing employees. When asked if talent acquisition was a priority in 2021, about 40% of HR professionals said yes. However, in 2022 that number was nearly cut in half, with only 17% of respondents agreeing. 

Whether layoffs have happened in your company, they’re looming on the horizon, or you’ve only heard news about them, retaining your existing employees is crucial during these trying economic times. Unfortunately… it’s not always that simple. 

Research has found that after a layoff, remaining employees experience:

• 41% decline in job satisfaction

• 36% decline in organizational commitment

• 20% decline in job performance


Often after layoffs, remaining employees are expected to pick up the slack that was left behind from their terminated colleagues. Layoffs can also weaken employee morale, commitment, and even trust in management. 

Whether or not your company has had to make the tough decision to let some employees go, taking care of your existing workforce in the midst of layoffs is crucial. If not, you risk detrimental effects for the morale in your organization.

Let’s get into how you can retain productive and happy employees during mass layoffs. 

Communication, communication, communication

One of the worst things you can do during mass layoffs is to avoid discussing it. 

Make an effort to openly communicate with your team about the reality of the situation. Chances are they may be concerned for their job security, which can have harmful effects on their productivity and morale at work.

Here’s how you can communicate with your team, depending on your company’s situation:

1. You’ve laid off some of your workforce

If you’ve had to lay off some of your workforce, it’s crucial that you communicate with remaining employees.

Start by addressing it head on. Consider asking managers to share the news with their teams personally, give employees the space to speak in private about their concerns, and hold a company-wide meeting to further discuss. 

It’s important to share as much information as possible, as lack of information can cause “layoff anxiety,” a harsh reality that 48% of workers have experienced. 

2. You’re planning to lay off some of your workforce

The negative effects that occur post-layoff can be avoided with proper planning and communication. 

UC Berkeley suggests the following:

• Keep employees informed

• Ask for their input and ideas on how to consolidate work.

• Ask for suggestions regarding voluntary reductions in time or saving money.

3. You’re not planning on layoffs

Even if layoffs are not on the horizon for your company, it’s still important to address the situation at hand. News of global mass layoffs can affect everyone – not just those who have been directly impacted. 

Plan a company-wide meeting to address the reality. Reassure employees that their jobs are safe, and give them the space to ask the questions they have. 

It’s important you don’t shy away from communicating, even when the topic isn’t fun to discuss.

Balance employee workload

After a layoff, remaining employees may be concerned about having to pick up the slack from those who are no longer with the company. 

As an organization, make an effort to ensure the workloads are balanced, and that no employees are taking on too much more than they were before. Taking on extra work could lead to higher cases of burnout, which can be destructive for the health of any organization. 

Burnt out employees are

• Nearly 3x more likely to actively be seeking a new job

• 23% more likely to visit the emergency room

• 13% less confident in their performance

Prioritize wellbeing

Regardless of the state of your company, in the midst of layoffs it’s important to make sure your people are okay. While cutting costs to employee wellbeing initiatives may seem to be a quick way to help the budget, this is the last thing you should consider. 

When employees feel their employer cares about their wellbeing, they are:

• 71% less likely to report experiencing excess amounts of burnout

• 5x more likely to advocate for their company as a place to work

• 3x more likely to be engaged at work

• 69% less likely to search for a new job

Invest in a wellbeing initiative to boost employee morale, health, and happiness.

Wellbeing can mean something different to each individual. Consider finding a holistic solution that offers these four options:

A. Team building

Why? Over 50% of employees have stayed at a company because they felt part of a team.

B. Mindfulness

Why? A study found that mindfulness increases job effectiveness. When practiced, employees gained an average of 62 minutes of productivity per week.

C. Exercise

Why? According to the CDC, physical activity is one of the most important activities you can do for your health. It has been shown to improve cognitive performance, reduce risk of disease, and help strengthen your bones and muscles. 

D. Impact

Why? Research shows employees who feel their company encourages them to support causes they care about are 71% more likely to stay with the company longer and 61% more likely to be engaged at work.

–> Check out our wellbeing solution

While you can’t always control the state of the global workplace or when your company will have to make tough layoff decisions, you can control how you, as an HR manager, choose to react. Try out our tips to help you along the process… and check out our employee wellbeing platform to take the guesswork out of employee engagement, retention, health, and happiness.


Written by Kelly Baker, Content Marketing at teroGO

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