Even during layoffs, leaders must leverage psychological safety.
Layoffs don’t bolster a sense of security for anyone – especially when the layoffs seem random.
4 questions a leader should consider before a layoff to ensure a sense of safety:
1. ARE WE ABRUPTLY LAYING PEOPLE OFF WITHOUT COMPASSION?
Sending a last-minute email or denying employee access is not the move.
Each employee deserves a private meeting with the manager whenever possible.
Speak with kindness and empathy and remind yourself that this layoff impacts their family and future.
Providing them with a letter of recommendation or connecting them to your network can go a long way.
2. WILL THE COLLEAGUES BE ABLE TO SAY GOODBYE
Allow goodbyes to happen.
Making this effort shows survivors that you respect employees as people by not making it a dehumanizing experience.
Remember that when layoffs happen, people don’t only lose jobs; they lose community.
This brings us to the 3rd question👇🏾
3. HOW WILL WE ENSURE AND SUSTAIN SURVIVORS’ PRODUCTIVITY?
Those who survive a layoff also experience the loss of community AND survivor’s guilt.
Don’t leave the remaining staff to shoulder the burden of the loss.
Acknowledge the difficulty of the loss and adjust expectations so that employees can feel empowered and supported.
Leading with empathy and adjusting expectations will be integral in helping those affected process their grief.
4. ARE WE EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATING WITH EMPLOYEES?
Staying silent is not a luxury leaders can afford.
The more transparent you are, the less both employees (and customers) are left to assume. This helps to instill trust and decrease fear.
Asking yourself these four questions and making the necessary approaches will help reduce the anxiety layoffs often cause.
As a leader, you can’t eliminate all of the collateral damage, but you can intentionally take some preventative measures.