How To Calm Anxiety About Layoffs and Job Insecurity

Companies in all sectors are cutting jobs in 2024. While job cuts were rampant last year primarily in the tech industry, we’re seeing a massive amount of them across the board now. Attrition is continuing at light speed in the tech sector, with just over 24,000 positions lost in tech as of February 23 since the start of the year. 

The tech sector is not the only one bleeding jobs - in a recent survey by ResumeBuilder, a full 38% of companies were looking to lay off staff in 2024. Some of these companies are blue chip, non-tech businesses that someone could reasonably expect to work at for a number of years under normal circumstances. 

If reading that as a manager caused anxiety, imagine how your employees feel. Layoff anxiety is a very real thing, and your staff are probably going through it right now. Insomnia, anxiety, and general stress are all caused by the prospect of a layoff, as well as challenges to any preexisting mental health issues.

What Happened to The Great Resignation

During the pandemic, people left the workforce for various reasons. While those taking early retirement may have stayed off the job market, many of these people started looking for jobs again once the pandemic was over. Inflation for everything from food to consumer goods meant that most families could no longer survive as one-income households. In the fall of 2023, the Great Resignation was officially declared to be over as quitting hit a 3-year low. 

The end of the Great Resignation, the automation of jobs, extreme layoffs in tech and the loss of business due to inflationary pressure have all combined to lead us where we are today, from a labor shortage to a labor overage.

Does Layoff Anxiety Lead to Poor Performance?

Employee layoff anxiety can understandably lead to worse performance, especially if cuts have already happened at your company and people are worried about being next on the list. If you’re a manager, you are likely worried about your own job and unconsciously passing on that stress to your people. So how can employee layoff anxiety be reasonably addressed in a tough economic climate?

1. Survey the landscape before talking to employees

If you have a human resources department, ask them to let you know if your department will be targeted for layoffs in the next year. If you don’t have an HR department, consider the metrics of your department and/or company for the past year. If there is a steady downward decline, you can reasonably guess that there will be attrition. Even if there aren’t any bad metrics, there still may be a chance of attrition if you are in a volatile industry such as the tech sector.

2. Be transparent and keep employees informed about company stability

Once you’ve surveyed the landscape and included financials, metrics, and other relevant data in your research, start delivering detailed reports on company and department performance to your staff. Resist the temptation to include overly positive messaging, especially if the numbers are trending downwards. Solid data can help you - and your staff - make informed decisions.

3. Co-develop exit strategies with your workers

If the numbers are starting to show a picture that may lead to layoffs, work on exit strategies with your staff. Instead of employee wellness programs, consider switching the budget to career coaches and resume experts for your people. Preparing for a layoff, even if it is not imminent, can actually help your employees stay engaged. This will do much more for your staff’s mental health than perks like yoga sessions, and those who leave with the help of these services were probably going to leave anyway.

4. Avoid promises to alleviate employee anxiety

Even if you’re the owner of the company, you shouldn’t make promises that a significant issue at your business could blow a hole in. If you’ve had a look at your financials and you’re on reasonably steady ground, as well as stable or upward metrics, only then can you suggest that everyone’s job is relatively safe as long as no unforeseen circumstances hit your business. 

If all of these conditions exist and you really want to make that announcement, make sure you’re backing it up with the same metrics and financials you gathered in step one - otherwise it sounds like a desperate promise to keep star employees from jumping ship.

5. Avoid “chicken littling”

If things do seem to be leading to a downturn in your industry and/or business, resist the urge to have a negative attitude during your workday. As a manager, you should be a beacon of calm and steadiness. If you need to let off steam, don’t unload on your team. This is so much easier said than done, because good managers want nothing more than to be transparent and honest with their team. However, transparency and honesty about personal emotions is very different from transparency and honesty about professional concerns. Try to keep the two separate as best as possible.

6. Do what you can to create employee loyalty

Employee loyalty is the single most important factor in whether or not your star performers will stay or walk. And it can’t be quantified. An employee will either feel loyal or they will not. This feeling will be based mostly on your treatment of them during their employment. Do they feel heard? Do they feel like you are being transparent with them? Do they feel supportive? Are you keeping toxic employees around that they don’t like to work with? All of those questions feed into the loyalty equation.

7. If layoffs are necessary, do them as empathically as possible

We can all agree that mass layoffs on a Zoom call, as seen at various companies in the last year, are not the way to go. If your company has an HR department, they generally know how to handle this in the most compassionate way possible. If there is no HR, ensuring that employees have the above-mentioned tools such as resume writers and career coaches can help them transition out properly and hopefully find another job in the process. Your remaining staff will see how well employees on their way out are treated, which will help their morale.

8. Use transparent tech tools to keep your team on board

If you are looking for a tech solution, consider products with critical analytics that can give you and your team immediate feedback. Prodoscore, our employee productivity solution, helps you and your staff measure performance in a way that transparently delivers insights that drive success. Managers can see at a glance how someone is contributing, and the employee knows that managers have an understanding of their efforts

Being transparent with your team and ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed if they are laid off can help with layoff anxiety, but until these turbulent times are over they will likely still experience some trepidation no matter how you handle it. Do what you can to keep workplace stress minimized and give them the analytical tools they need to gauge their own performance.

Do you need to make some data-driven decisions and keep your staff apprised of their performance? Contact us today for a demonstration of how Prodoscore can help

How will visibility impact your business?