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Written by: Janet Salopek, CPHR

Over the past year organizations in Alberta have experienced many challenges as a result of the economic downturn. In comparing the most recent Alberta HR Trends Report results to those from a year ago, the percentage of professionals expecting termination without cause to be the biggest reason they lose staff has almost doubled from 17% to 33%. This increase includes a rise of 7% in the second half of 2016, indicating that we have not seen the last of the layoffs that are affecting so many organizations, employees and professionals in Alberta.

We have all either experienced it and/or read about it – the after effects of a layoff. Staff leaving offices with their termination packages, stunned as they walk to their desk to pack up their belongings and looking embarrassed as they say a quick good-bye to those they meet in the hall. Those that remain stand with bent heads – not sure what to say. The survivors are relieved to still have their jobs; however, they feel sad as they realize many of their friends and peers are gone. Soon they feel mad and nervous as they realize that, although there are less people, the work has not diminished.

As the Manager you are feeling all of these things but there is one major difference – you are the Leader and you have to help the remaining employees find the path forward. You take a moment, put your emotions in check and call your group together for the first meeting after the layoffs. What will you say and how will you act? Here are seven steps to managing the impact of layoff on your retained team and moving forward together with purpose:

  1. Act quickly to bring your team together – ideally the same day that the layoffs were announced or first thing the next morning.
  2. Acknowledge how you are feeling – be candid – you’re sad, disappointed but also determined to move forward with purpose.
  3. Tell your staff as much as you can and be honest – if there is going to be another round of layoffs don’t guarantee anyone that their job is safe.
  4. If career transition support was offered to those that left let the survivors know this, they will feel better knowing that assistance has been provided. Encourage your staff to connect with those that have left to offer support and to say good-bye.
  5. Acknowledge that everyone will need time to adjust – there is actually a grieving process that we all go through when we witness a layoff. Educate yourself on this and tell people that it’s okay to feel the emotions that they are feeling. Encourage them to talk about their feelings.
  6. Commit to your employees that you will meet with each one of them individually to discuss how the layoff will impact their duties and work load; engage them and ask them to think about how work can be re-distributed.
  7. Make sure you keep your door open for the couple of weeks after a layoff and connect often with your people. Ask them how they are doing and listen to their responses. If they are struggling, connect them with someone that can help – maybe your Employee Assistance Program or another peer who might be able to take them for coffee and mentor them.

Ensure you look after your own emotional health. Understand the cycle of emotions that are typical when major change happens. Give yourself permission to feel sad, mad, overwhelmed and anxious but remember, to the extent that you can, to remain real and optimistic. Make sure you talk about how you are feeling and your thoughts about moving forward with another peer or someone you trust outside the organization. As soon as possible map out the new landscape for your people and walk purposely as you move about the days following the layoffs. You are the leader and people want to know that you are confident on the path forward.


Alberta HR Trends Report Fall 2016 – 6 Month Outlook

Written by Janet Salopek ICD.D, CHRP – Partner and Senior Consultant  

Salopek & Associates Ltd.


Salopek & Associates Ltd. is a team of human resource and business consultants specializing in strategy, human resources and board governance. Serving clients across Canada, with Associates in Calgary, Fort McMurray, Ottawa and Toronto, we are available on an on-call basis to help you attract, retain and develop the right people and to put effective processes in place that will grow your business.