How to Rebuild Employee Teams, Trust, and Morale After Layoffs

A stack of wooden blocks in front of a black background, representing the process of rebuilding after layoffs.

With fears of a recession looming, more than 60% of businesses anticipate employee layoffs this year. Good companies offer outplacement services, counseling, and other assistance to the workers being let go. The best companies also take swift action following layoffs to reorganize, reassure, and engage those who remain.

According to research from Resume Builder, 61% of business leaders say they are likely to lay off at least part of their workforce this year. The numbers are even higher in the software industry (84%) and in companies with more than 500 employees (74%). One in three businesses, overall, expect to lay off 30% or more of their workforce this year.

Already this year, significant layoffs have happened at major brands and firms including Paramount, Shopify, David’s Bridal, Meta (Facebook), Disney, PayPal, IBM, 3M, Google (Alphabet), Microsoft, Amazon, DirecTV, Goldman Sachs, and Stitch Fix.

Though no one looks forward to layoffs, when market conditions require them, leaders need to plan. Compassionate leaders will offer what services they can to ease the transition out for the affected workers.

As quickly as possible after the layoff, top leadership also needs to communicate, as openly and authentically as possible, to all remaining employees:

          What actions were taken;

          Why they were taken; and

          What the plan is to stabilize the business and ultimately return to growth.

It’s also vital for managers to meet one-on-one with their remaining direct reports to provide reassurance and communicate any changes in roles and responsibilities.

And one of the best actions enterprises can take following a layoff is to arrange team building activities. Here are four compelling reasons why.

To Improve Employee Morale

As noted here previously, team building is highly effective for jumpstarting employee morale. It brings people together, improves communication and collaboration, and counteracts anxiety.

Layoffs are incredibly stressful. The employees remaining may have feelings of fear (am I next to go?), worry, and even guilt. Team building supports psychological need for belonging and addresses all five elements of workplace well-being defined by the Surgeon General’s framework.

Following a layoff, the highest-performing employees remaining may be tempted to look for new opportunities. Team building has been shown to increase retention, engagement, and loyalty, while also reinforcing workplace relationships—all of which can help companies hang onto their top talent even during a difficult transition.

To Strengthen Restructured Teams

Layoffs usually accompany a restructuring effort. Teams will be re-formed, with some teams eliminated and their remaining members assigned to different teams. Some people will need to be retrained for new positions. Temporary workers and subcontractors may be brought in to fill gaps during the transition.

Just as team building is a vital component in new employee orientation during growth times, it’s crucial during restructuring because it builds trust, improves team dynamics, and creates shared experiences. It helps build work relationships and collaboration, helping employees get integrated into their new teams and productive more quickly.

Retraining is also typically part of the restructuring process, as talented employees are asked to step into new roles or take on new tasks. Effective corporate training is critical to improving business performance.

Professional development workshops like our DiSC Profile Workshop, Emotional Intelligence Training, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training, and Manager’s Guide to Business Coaching help your team leaders and internal subject matter experts to become better communicators and trainers.

To Show Commitment to Employees

Team building and professional development activities demonstrate to remaining employees that you are willing to invest in them. You’ll pay them to step outside their normal jobs for a few hours and learn new skills.

Seeing that the company is willing to invest in their futures reassures employees and encourages them to re-commit to the organization, while also enhancing their collaboration and problem-solving abilities.

Team building programs can be customized specifically to help organizations rebuild engagement and morale in a post-layoff environment.

To Show Commitment to the Community

Like other team building exercises, corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities enhance communication, collaboration, leadership, and problem-solving skills. But beyond those pillars, CSR programs pack a powerful emotional impact.

As written in a previous post here:

“Incorporating CSR in your team building takes it to a whole different level…From the perspective of employees, it has to do with heart. It has to do with the spirit of the company, with the culture that your company embraces… All of our CSR programs allow participants to reach out to others. It’s about emotions, caring, company culture, (and) the community.”

When a company is a significant employer in its area, layoffs can impact the community beyond just the employees affected. CSR team building is a way to reinforce the company’s commitment to the local community and help those most in need.

For example, our Build-a-Wheelchair® and Build-A-Rollator programs help seniors, veterans, and others with mobility challenges. Our Mini-Golf Build and Food Donation activity support local food banks. Helping the Homeless provides clothes, blankets, hygiene items, food, and more to those of all ages struggling with homelessness.

Many of our programs have been created to help kids. Our new Autism Sensory Donation program not only brings your teams together to assemble wonderful sensory support kits for donation to autism therapy programs and non-profit organizations, but also enhances awareness and understanding of autism and how to support those on the spectrum.

Our Build-a-Guitar® and new Build-a-Band™ programs bring music into the lives of young people through schools and community youth organizations. Fostering Hope is a heartwarming activity that involves assembling backpacks for adoptive and foster care children filled with items recommended by networks that distribute care packs to deserving kids.

And our perennially popular Bike Build Donation® incorporates challenges and activities teams must complete in order to earn parts and tool kits to assemble bicycles. Whenever possible, your group will present the fully assembled bikes to deserving children – accompanied by a local charity representative who will thank your group for your donation, creating an even greater emotional impact.

Wrapping Up

This is shaping up to be a bad year for corporate layoffs, with many well-known companies already shedding workers and more pink slips expected. Good companies do what they can to assist those affected; the best organizations also quickly communicate and reassure the employees who remain.

Beyond both companywide and individual, one-on-one communications, team building can play a vital role in maintaining engagement and restoring trust among employees. The inevitable anxiety and stress are reduced when workers see that their companies are investing in their skills and professional development.

All team building programs improve communications, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. CSR programs also help the local community, have a powerful emotional impact on employees, and enhance the company culture.

We wrote the book on Corporate Team Building
Your roadmap to successful corporate team building.

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