Layoffs… they are devastating. It’s an uncomfortable topic to talk about for those who were let go, as well as for those who “survived.”

I was once impacted by a layoff myself so I know what that’s like. What I’ve realized is that as with all things challenging, it is through conversations where we find relief, support and solutions.

Whether you are a leader of a team, an individual contributor, or an HR professional, the recent layoffs we hear about have impacted you in some way.

Sadness, anger, stress, fear and guilt are only some of what you might have experienced.

If you lead a team and/or are in HR, you probably feel some sense of responsibility and pressure to help others get through this.

So this post is for those who are looking for ways to have more meaningful conversations to help others through this transition. In this post, I cover 5 things to think about.

Boosting Morale and Retaining Talent

As employees witness more and more layoffs happening around them, it is inevitable that they feel various emotions, and sometimes all at the same time.

They might be feeling sad that their best colleague is now gone, confused about the organization’s future, scared that they might be next, stressed about the future of their career growth, etc. etc. It goes without saying that their morale is impacted.

Every individual on your team is impacted by this in different ways.

Having meaningful, 1:1 conversations to get to know how each individual is being impacted is the first step to boosting morale.

1. Check in on yourself first.

Before planning for a conversation, it is important to first check-in with how you’re feeling. Emotions might be high, you’re feeling the pressure to help others, but you are human, and you’re going through it too! So you might be feeling resistance against the impending conversation and this is all normal.

In order to step into these conversations more confidently, it is important to address the emotions that YOU are experiencing first. At this moment, focus on getting clear on what you’re feeling and don’t worry about coming up with solutions just yet.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is this resistance coming from?
  • What do you fear will happen?
  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • How can you feel more supported?

2. Focus on building rapport, not solving their problems

As leaders, we often feel the pressure to solve all of our team’s problems right away. We don’t often give ourselves enough time and space to just sit with the problem! We often skip through the crucial step of gathering the necessary information.

So let the focus of these conversations be to build rapport and really get to know how the layoff has impacted your team. Get curious and prepare the questions you’d like to ask your employee. Don’t worry about providing solutions yet.

3. Let the employee know that they are valued.

These conversations are a great opportunity for you to express appreciation for the employee’s contribution to the team and organization. Be genuine and specific.

Think about:

  • Specific strengths and how the individual have used these strengths to contribute to team success.
  • Reiterate your idea of team success and what you value in building a team.

4. Be their support

Again, the purpose here is not to offer or promise solutions, but rather, to obtain more information. Find out how you and the organization can support the individual.

Some great questions to ask are:

  • How can I support you?
  • What does “growth” look like you do?
  • What professional goals do you have moving forward?
  • What do you need to overcome in order to to achieve these goals?
  • What resources do you need?

5. Commit to regular check-ins.

Making these check-in conversations the norm is crucial to boosting morale and developing your team. How can the both of you commit to having regular check-in conversations moving forward?

Post-Layoff Conversations – Make Them Meaningful

There have been so much pressure around setting the team and organization for success post-layoffs. Taking the time to have meaningful conversations and getting to know how we are being impacted collectively will help you identify the best solutions.

Retaining your employees is an investment. What’s one action you can commit to today to help your team overcome the negative impacts of layoffs?

For my HR friends, if you are looking for ideas and further support in retaining your top talent, check out my page on High Potential Programs!