Five things you need to do when managing a reshuffled hybrid team after layoffs
Are you facing the difficult task of managing a reshuffled hybrid team after layoffs? Here are five things that can help make the process smoother for everyone.
As a manager, leading a reshuffled hybrid team after layoffs can be a challenging task. The team dynamic has changed, and employees may be feeling uncertain, anxious or even resentful about the changes.
This can affect their motivation and productivity, which can lead to decreased morale, lower job satisfaction and eventually, high turnover. It can be even more difficult when the layoffs happened in a less-than-empathetic manner, such as many prominent tech companies – Google, Twitter, Amazon, Meta, and others – recently laying off their employees by email.
But with the right approach, managers can navigate this difficult situation and keep their teams motivated and productive.
As an expert in hybrid workforce strategy, I helped team managers navigate through this stressful period, so as to minimize the natural decline of productivity, morale, and engagement that accompanies any layoff and team reshuffling.
1) Offer empathy and emotional support
When a team experiences layoffs, it can lead to feelings of fear, uncertainty, and stress. That’s especially the case for hybrid teams, who have less ways to reassure themselves through in-person presence. Employees who have been with the company for a long time may feel particularly vulnerable, as they may have invested a significant portion of their careers into the company.
In these difficult times, it is crucial that managers offer empathy and emotional support to their teams. One of the most important things that you can do as a manager is to simply listen and understand what your employees are going through. This can involve checking in with each team member to see how they are coping and addressing any concerns that they may have.
Make sure that your employees have access to the resources that they need to support their mental and emotional wellbeing. This can include offering more flexible work arrangements, providing access to mental health support, and offering time off to help employees process their feelings.
2) Understand your team’s needs
While addressing the team’s emotional needs represents step one, you then need to understand the unique needs and preferences of each team member in your reshuffled team. Take the time to speak with each new team member individually to understand their needs, and how you can support them.
This could be as simple as a weekly check-in call, or providing additional training or resources. By understanding your team’s needs, you can create a supportive environment that will help them feel valued and motivated to collaborate effectively.
For instance, some team members may be more comfortable working mostly or even fully from home, while others may prefer to spend more time in the office environment. Flexibility is key to successfully managing a hybrid team.
Encourage your team members to embrace flexible working arrangements, whether it’s working from home, flexible hours, or a combination of both. By embracing flexibility, you can create a work environment that accommodates the unique needs and preferences of each team member.
3) Ensure you have a communication plan
A communication plan is a crucial tool for ensuring effective communication in a reshuffled hybrid team. A well-thought-out communication plan should outline the methods and frequencies of communication, who is responsible for communicating with different stakeholders, and what information needs to be communicated. This plan should be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of the team, but also provide structure and guidance for the team to rely on.
Make sure to get the input of different team members on their communication preferences. Pay particular attention to how they prefer to communicate when at home versus when they’re in the office.
The hybrid model presents both opportunities and challenges for communication. On the one hand, the time spent working remotely allows for increased flexibility, but on the other hand, it can lead to feelings of isolation and lack of connection with the team, especially as the team is reforming after layoffs.
To make the most of this model, it is important to use technology to facilitate regular check-ins, video conferencing, and virtual team building activities. This can help to keep your team connected, engaged and motivated, even during the period when they work from home.
4) Foster trust
Layoffs can have a devastating impact on trust in the workplace. The sudden loss of coworkers can create feelings of insecurity, anger, and fear among employees. Additionally, layoffs can create feelings of distrust towards management, as employees may feel that they were not given adequate information or support during the process. It can be especially difficult for hybrid teams, who don’t see each other as often; in-person interaction is key to building trust.
For reshuffled teams, trust is especially challenging to cultivate. Encourage team members to build strong working relationships by setting aside time for team-building activities, when they’re working in the office as well as when they’re working remotely. This could be as simple as an in-person lunch break, or a virtual game night, or something more out of the box such as a virtual or in-person corporate escape room experience.
An additional element of trust is psychological safety: the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Encourage employees to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of retaliation if they make a mistake. Create a safe and supportive work environment where employees feel valued and heard.
5) Celebrate success
One of the most significant benefits of celebrating success in a reshuffled team is that it helps to build a positive work culture. When employees feel recognized and valued for their hard work, they are more likely to remain engaged and motivated. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity and a more positive work environment.
Additionally, celebrating success sends a clear message to employees that their contributions are appreciated and valued, which can go a long way in boosting morale and retaining top talent. By celebrating success, you can foster a sense of unity and help employees feel more connected to each other and to the company.
To celebrate success, one of the most effective steps involves recognizing individual contributions. This can be as simple as taking the time to acknowledge a job well done or offering a small token of appreciation, such as a gift card or a certificate. Likewise, when the team succeeds together, make sure to host a particularly notable and fun social event.
Also, try to get official recognition from the higher-ups for your team’s efforts. Finally, provide rewards in the form of opportunities for professional development tied to the nature of the success, whether individual or for the whole team. This could include anything from offering training and workshops to providing access to industry conferences and events.
Help your employees navigate this difficult situation
It’s not easy to manage a reshuffled team after layoffs, especially in a hybrid setting. In my experience, managers need to offer empathy and emotional support to employees, understand the unique needs and preferences of each team member, have a communication plan, cultivate trust and psychological safety, and celebrate success.
By implementing these strategies, managers can help employees navigate through the difficult situation and foster a supportive work environment that boosts productivity, retention, and engagement.
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps tech and finance industry executives drive collaboration, innovation, and retention in hybrid work. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts.
He is the best-selling author of seven books, including Never Go With Your Gut and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams. His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles in prominent venues such asHarvard Business Review, Fortune, and Forbes.
His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio.