Picking Up the Pieces After a Lay-off

Keeping your people motivated in normal economic times is difficult enough. But how do you pick up the pieces after you’ve just had a lay-off in your organization?

Laying people off is difficult. Picking up the pieces after a lay-off is even harder. The survivors, who are “the lucky ones”, are forced to take on more of the work, put in additional hours and in some cases take a pay cut. Your first instinct might be to jump right in and help with the tasks that must be done. A noble thought. However, your employees need more than another set of helping hands. They need a strong leader, who can help them move swiftly through this difficult period of time.


The following five tips will help you get your team back on track after a lay-off:

1. Give people time to grieve – Operating as if business is as usual is a mistake. Business is anything but usual. Give your employees a few days to process what has just occurred. Provide them with an opportunity to voice their concerns. Let them talk, while you listen.

2. Be empathetic – Acknowledge the losses that have just occurred. Keep in mind many people may have watched their friends, and possibly family members lose their jobs.

3. Communicate the new vision and direction – Employees need to know where the company is now heading. Be sure you provide them with as much information as you can regarding any changes in the mission and vision of the organization.

4. Clarify new roles and responsibilities – No matter how senior your employees are, they will need direction. Re-allocate the workload and communicate the changes. Be prepared to provide training, where necessary.

5. Acknowledge all successes – It’s easy to be so focused on long-term objectives that you miss the small wins that are occurring all around you. Celebrate all successes, not matter how big or small.


This is an opportunity to shine as a leader and stand out in the crowd. Feel free to post comments regarding tips that can help other managers lead after a lay-off.


Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions

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About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders