In 2023, 1183 tech companies had to let go of 261,997 employees. And 2024 saw over 29,000 more layoffs in the first month.

We’ve witnessed wave after wave of support for those departing – financial aid, extended healthcare, and encouragement on social media platforms. Once the focus on those stepping away fades, a silent cohort remains, enduring the storm within the company’s walls.

The hard truth is that no one feels “lucky to have a job” when these massive internal shifts occur.

A layoff equally influences the employees who retained their positions. And this emotional impact will have consequences on employee performance and engagement. Unfortunately, few decision-makers find the time to be concerned about what happens with the workforce who stays and how this directly impacts productivity.

When People Management Fails

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The reality is that job security doesn’t equate to emotional support or job satisfaction post-layoffs. The survivors often deal with uncertainty, leading to decreased productivity and low enthusiasm for their roles.

One of our Gotara members explains how it feels to be on the other side of a massive layoff: “I’m tired of hearing that I’m lucky to have a job at all. That doesn’t help me much when my workload is 50% higher due to fewer resources. And although my direct manager is supportive, he can’t do much about it, and it doesn’t feel like the business leaders care.”

As the narrative shifts, so do employees’ career goals, presenting a challenge in retaining those who remain. Layoffs can lead to a silent exodus of top performers — a phenomenon known as “rage-applying.” This trend is not as much a consequence of an excessive workload but rather rooted in a sense of stagnation, a lack of empathy, and the perception of limited benefits on the horizon. The challenge lies in the practicalities of workload and in addressing the emotional and motivational aspects contributing to employee disengagement.

“We just went through layoffs, and my leadership is hesitant to focus on new programs or benefits for those who stay. I get that, but leaders need to start listening and supporting the remaining people at some point,” states a Gotara member. 

Paying Attention to the Long-Term Impact 

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In the absence of an empathetic people management style, the anxiety-ridden atmosphere post-layoffs can permanently change company culture. With it, two things happen:

  1. High-performing, skilled employees become motivated by a sense of urgency to escape the limitations of their current professional environment.
  2. Employers risk eroding their core competencies and intellectual capital, impacting their long-term ability to stay competitive.

To prevent it, organizations must quickly shift the narrative towards those who remain, exploring strategies to retain and engage talent despite adversity. Because employees understand what the company goes through, but empathy must be a two-way street to keep things running smoothly after a layoff.

The Power of Recognition and Open Communication

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After layoffs, retaining employees requires a new people management strategy beyond conventional employee benefits. To meet employee expectations, managers must learn to acknowledge the contributions of team members and provide tangible growth opportunities. 

Rather than relying solely on retention bonuses, consider investing in upskilling, a mutually beneficial strategy that strokes the emotional need for belonging. Customized talent development programs and upskilling managers to address morale issues can increase employee engagement and retention. 

In this context, engaging with employees more than ever is vital. Managers at all levels must connect with frontline workers. Direct conversations show support and empathy and strengthen the bond between management and staff. Moreover, extra communication from HR professionals and executives will help regain lost momentum, and the increased engagement will build solid relationships and a culture of trust and solidarity. 

The Need for Key People Management Skills

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The performance of first–and middle-level managers is more critical than ever, as they have direct reports with talent and can actively listen to their team members. You want managers with self-awareness and emotional intelligence for a deeper understanding of the needs of team members. Why are they so important? These great managers can use this constructive feedback to shape the work environment for increased productivity. 

Training in human resource management and team performance needs to be upgraded to address the complexities of the post-layoff workplace. It’s time to build a new leadership style with updated strategies and new skills to handle people-related tasks effectively. 

How Do You Effectively Manage People Through a Layoff? 

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At Gotara, we’ve worked with managers who had to lead their teams through significant reorganizations. They demonstrated excellent people management skills, maintaining transparency, showing empathy, and allowing time to grieve any perceived losses.  

Later, they successfully refocused their teams on a shared purpose of solving customer pain points, showcasing the need for contemporary people management skills and the importance of open communication and adaptive leadership.

Going Beyond Flexible Work Arrangements

Key components in cultivating a healthy work environment involve acknowledging and addressing the real-life situations and pressures employees confront. 

Beyond the surface level of flexibility, you want to provide support systems and resources that cater to the diverse needs of your workforce. 

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The world is increasingly unpredictable, and leaders must recognize that. They must talk about the company’s journey, knowing there’ll be speed bumps because we don’t control the macro conditions. All you can do is address the moment, recognize that there are challenges, and talk through how you get through them.

Karl Fessenden, CEO of BrandSafway

Beyond the surface level of flexibility, you want to provide support systems and resources that cater to the diverse needs of your workforce. 


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It is tough for a leader who has to make the decisions to restructure, reorganize, or reduce the staff. But it is equally tough for each one of the staff who remain. There is a grieving process that needs to be managed, followed quickly by a realignment around the organization’s strategy and the purpose behind the work team members do.

Dr. D Sangeeta, CEO of Gotara

It may include mental health programs, family support initiatives, and opportunities for professional growth. Recognizing the multifaceted nature of employees’ lives and offering targeted solutions can demonstrate a genuine commitment to their well-being. This approach builds a positive work environment and improves business performance. But you’ll need good managers to help you understand the best solution for effective people management in your organization. 

Do you need help to make your employees feel valued and motivated? Gotara can help you nurture talent to reach sustainable growth so you can retain and empower the remaining workforce and ensure long-term success and adaptability. Learn more about our upskilling programs and how we can collaborate to redefine professional development opportunities for your team members and their managers.