Layoffs are never fun, for both the employees and the management. They usually affect some employees more than others but the entire team usually feels the impact.
Layoffs, if not handled well, can really put a dent in the morale of the team and slow down the momentum of the organization. There is no perfect way to handle the team dynamics after a layoff but here are some tips to make the transition a little less stressful.
Nothing is worse after a layoff than a management team not being straightforward with the rest of the team about what happened. This is the fastest way to effectively rule out any honesty or transparency in the organization ever again. If people do not feel they have a full understanding of why someone was let go, they will inevitably make up their own assumptions.
Usually when employees make up assumptions about something management has done, it is usually a negative assumption. Be mindful of the fact that people will only feel safe if they trust their leadership and they will only trust their leadership if their leadership is transparent.
Allow for dissipation of negative energy
Most employees don't handle layoffs very well because they quickly draw the conclusion that it could easily have been their own job being terminated. Because of this there is usually a lot of bickering, complaining, finger-pointing and criticizing. This will usually be further exacerbated if the leadership does not acknowledge that this is a big deal to the employees.
The most important thing the management can do is openly talk about the negative effects that this layoff will have on the team, both morale and structure-wise. Admitting that things will be weird and that the situation is not necessarily ideal will be regarded as very empathetic by the team and will make it easier for them to move on.
Move on quickly
A layoff has the ability to linger for a long time in the minds of the employees. Moving past the experience is the best way to keep the organization to move on with their daily job functions. There is no need for a candle light vigil or an extended management meeting to talk about the person who is being let go. As long as you communicate clearly what the situation was and help them to understand that it was a business decision and not personal, they should move on easily.