Recruitment Strategy

How HR and Hiring Teams Can Manage Morale After Mass Layoffs

Even though the world is slowly and cautiously leaving the pandemic behind, the wounds and issues it caused never left. Everyone still remembers the fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness it wrapped our lives into, starting one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history.

But the COVID-19 crisis didn't only affect our inner lives and physical and emotional well-being. It also shook our professional lives and every industry to the core.

The aftermath are still present and will likely be here, even when the pandemic is officially over. Many people lost their jobs, and some lost their businesses.

Numerous companies had to slow down, halt the hiring process, and let go of their long-term employees. Sadly, the global situation didn't become any gentler in 2022.

Instead, the world became a much more brutal place with the Russia-Ukraine war and widespread inflation. As a result, the workforce and the business world continue undergoing challenges and trials.

According to a recent PwC survey, 50 percent of U.S. employees expect job cuts in the next six to 12 months, living in fear and apprehension. Their anxiety is justified, as many notable companies and their hiring teams have already had to fire workers this year.

For instance, Meta cut some 11,000 jobs in what has become the biggest tech layoff of 2022; Snapchat laid off 20 percent of its workforce in September 2022 and Cameo laid off 25 percent. But they're not the only ones, and the list will likely go on in the coming months.

If you're facing this problem and wonder how to keep your employees motivated and hopeful while having job cuts in place, here's everything you and your hiring teams should know.

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What Causes Mass Lay-Offs?

No one enjoys firing people. It's a painful process most would like to avoid or never have to experience.

However, it's much more harrowing for employees, as they lose jobs and have to start over. Many don't even understand why it happened and whether they did something wrong.

That can cause people to struggle with accepting the situation and finding the courage to keep going. Because of that, it's crucial to let employees know why layoffs happen and that they have no blame for it, especially in mass job cuts.

Layoffs represent temporary or permanent terminations by a company and have nothing to do with employees' performance. Instead, it happens when employers and hiring teams must reduce costs, undergo a decreased demand for their service or products, and when seasonal closures and economic crises occur.

That means that employees have a right to unemployment insurance or a severance package. However, being entitled to some form of government support is typically not enough to curb the pain that layoffs cause.

It's also important to mention how this differs from furloughs and firing employees. Contrary to layoffs, a furlough is a temporary mandatory leave due to reasons such as not having enough work for all workers.

However, companies and hiring teams expect people to return to work after a certain period, usually when the issue is solved. On the other hand, employers fire employees when they fail to demonstrate satisfactory performance, breach their duties, or are guilty of workplace-related misconduct.

The most common reasons layoffs occur are mergers, business closures, acquisitions, cost-reducing actions, outsourcing, decreased company operations, seasonality, lack of funds, and project cancellations. However, mass layoffs typically happen due to external events and situations.

That's what's happening this year in most cases. Companies and hiring teams must implement layoffs due to the bear market.

Bear markets represent prolonged periods of downward-trending stock prices, typically followed by unemployment and recession. No wonder the Great Depression and Great Recession were associated with this phenomenon.

Today's challenges started in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The work world has been experiencing various issues ever since, such as increased labor costs, a brutal talent war, slow business growth, and difficulties attracting and maintaining qualified candidates.

Even the most influential companies and their hiring teams had a hard time reaching top talents and enticing them to stay. Indeed, we're undergoing a lasting change, and the economy will likely never be the same.

We must adapt and determine the best response, even if that means laying people off. Nevertheless, these transformations are normal and expected, especially after an unprecedented event like the pandemic.

These economic and societal fluctuations are a part of the reset and post-COVID normalcy. The goal is to maintain confidence and find ways to keep employees at ease and motivated.

Moreover, companies and their hiring teams must ensure layoffs don't hurt their employer branding. Because of that, HR and hiring teams must nurture employee morale while keeping job seekers interested and willing to apply for new job openings.

Before moving to the practical aspect of that task, let's dive into how layoffs affect employees' emotional wellness and candidates' interest in the company.

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More than Loss of Safe Compensation and Employment Benefits

There's more to the impact of layoffs than it seems at first glance. - Employees aren't only disappointed because they're losing their jobs and salaries.

Instead, many find themselves in a state of shock and disbelief. Even when it happens during economic crises, every person hopes they won't be the one to lose their job.

Hence, when discovering their company and hiring teams are starting a mass layoff, most workers will ask themselves why they have to be the ones to go and if they did something wrong. Moreover, even though the hiring teams should clarify the cause, many employees don't understand why their employer is implementing job cuts.

After accepting that the layoff is indeed happening, people often feel a sense of worthlessness and doubt they can find a new job. After all, employers and hiring teams often must let go of employees who have been there for decades.

Some people will be angry and loathe that they have dedicated years of their lives to the company, which could trigger them to label their experience as unfavorable and share it with others. But after anger comes acceptance in most cases.

However, HR and hiring teams must offer the necessary support to the people to ensure they can accept the situation and not lose hope. While doing that, they must also keep employee morale high and encourage those who stay in the company.

Most job seekers will find it discouraging if a company just underwent mass layoffs. That could imply the employer isn't looking for new employees or ready to provide competitive conditions and salary.

Moreover, if a company doesn't handle layoffs well, its reputation might suffer. No one wants to work with an employer who suddenly introduced job cuts and never offered support to the employees.

As a result, a company and its hiring teams could struggle with talent attraction and retention after layoffs, even if it was some time ago. The best way to prevent that is to ensure layoffs go as smoothly as possible and implement the necessary strategies to nurture employee morale.

Here's how to do that.

How can HR and Hiring Teams Manage Employee Morale During and After Mass Layoffs?

Here's what HR and hiring teams should keep in mind after mass layoffs:

Regular and Open Communication

The period after mass layoffs is the perfect time for disinformation and distrust to occur. If your hiring teams and HR fail to communicate the latest information and updates with employees, they will likely have a hard time feeling at ease and trusting the company.

That could lead to poor performance and a lack of motivation. Because of that, you must nurture regular communication and be candid about every change that affects employees. If you're planning new staffing tweaks, let them know.

Let people know what to expect and ensure the workplace doesn't feel like walking on needs. No one should fear they will be the next one to go.

Clarify whether you're planning more layoffs and why.

But if you're confident that the situation is stable, share that with your employees. However, these are not the only changes you should explain.

Also, let people know if the workload will change and whether everyone will have the same responsibilities and schedules as before.

Leave no place for doubts, rumors, and miscommunication. Moreover, if an employee has new tasks and working hours, clarify whether that's only temporary.

On the other hand, HR and hiring teams should also let job seekers and candidates know about the recruitment situation in the company. How did mass layoffs affect the hiring process and plans?

Use your company's website and careers page to let people know whether you will hire new people soon. If you're still recovering from the job cuts and are in the stabilization process, clarify you're currently not recruiting but will accept resumes for future job openings.

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RESOURCES: Get hundreds of ready to use email templates to manage your HR and internal communications.

Acknowledge the Work-Life Interconnectedness

Employers and hiring teams often forget it, but coworkers often become friends and become attached to each other. If one of them has to leave the workplace while the others stay, that could trigger pain and cause survivor's guilt.

Hence, it's crucial to remember the grief and sadness that stay after people see their coworkers lose their jobs to mass layoffs. Many employees might feel guilty about staying and question whether they should quit.

Moreover, they may feel angry and need emotional and mental support. Leverage your well-being and wellness programs to ensure your employees have everything they need to cope with the array of post-layoff feelings.

HR and hiring teams can also organize meetings to explain why things went the way they did and what to expect in the future. The remaining employees should feel confident and understand they shouldn't feel guilty about not having their jobs terminated.

Keeping in touch with workers who lost their jobs is also recommended. Let them know they aren't forgotten and offer support to the extent your resources and budget allow.

Use Tech to Nurture Transparency

Even though being humane and showing care is the most significant part of the post-layoff period, HR and hiring teams can rely on technology for help. Use it to share timely updates and notifications with employees and keep them in touch with the events and changes affecting them.

Moreover, you can use modern apps to organize one-on-one meetings and remove confusion and doubt that may be looming. For instance, you can use a SaaS platform to keep your employees in the loop.

But consistent collaboration with your hiring teams and stakeholders is also of paramount importance during and after layoffs. That way, you ensure recruitment and employer branding activities continue undamaged.

For instance, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will help you with talent management and candidate screening once you're ready to hire again. But it also enables you to nurture your talent pool and add qualified professionals.

On the other hand, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will ensure you maintain ongoing communication with the team. It will also help you regroup and drive your regular operations after the company stabilizes.

Be Compassionate

HR and hiring teams should understand that employees won't feel the same every day. Even after some time, they might experience a lack of productivity and motivation.

After all, grieving is a process, and it's different for everyone, including after mass layoffs. Hence, never scold and punish employees for feeling low.

Instead, show you understand what they're going through and offer your support. Don't come across as a cold corporate manager; be compassionate and ask what you can do to help.

Nurture Workplace Friendships and Bring People Together

The best way to boost employee morale after mass layoffs and make people feel hopeful again is to create a sense of community. Establish a positive work atmosphere and encourage workplace friendships and connections.

Stress will likely be rampant immediately after job cuts, and employees will need someone they can confide in and feel at ease. They can be that for each other.

Provide spaces and opportunities for people to connect and share their feelings and experience. You can also offer mentorship and coaching to help them overcome this period swiftly.

Help Employees Find Purpose

Losing a sense of purpose is among the worst aftermaths of layoffs. If people start doubting the company and its intentions, they might wonder why they're staying and if the same values and missions still apply.

Hence, HR and hiring teams must reinforce the company culture and remind employees why their contribution matters and belong in the company.

Mass layoffs are inherently painful, and HR and hiring teams can often do nothing more but be there for employees and leave no place for miscommunication. They must introduce the necessary strategies and provide support to the people to boost employee morale and maintain employer branding intact.

But HR and hiring teams should also leverage SaaS technology, such as ATS and CRM, to keep the business thriving after brutal job cuts. Manatal's leading AI Recruitment Software can help nurture talent management and team collaboration.

Try Manatal's 14-day Free Trial and discover how its software can help you keep your company successful after mass layoffs.

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