4 Ways to Build Trust in a Time of Layoffs


During the panel discussion at the most recent Talent Exchange Live event, the topic of trust in employers came up a number of times. The fact is that the old days, when people spent their entire careers with one company and earned bonuses and a gold watch at retirement are long gone. Now, Human Resources management leaders must face up to this break in the employer-employee relationship.  

WATCH: Talent Exchange Live

The median number of years employees stay with their company is 4.1, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The argument panelists Jan van der Hoop, President of Fit First Technologies, and Danielle Rutigliano, CEO of Talent Unicorn, made is that Gen Z workers watched their parents suffer through the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, when companies laid off large swaths of their workforce without hesitation. 

Rutigliano says the lack of trust in employers is evident in the practice of so-called quiet quitting. 

“They’ve learned you can’t trust a company,” she said. “You go in, do your work and that’s it…They’re smarter.” 

Yet, employers need workers to go above and beyond, especially in challenging times. Also, retention is paramount at a time when many industries are facing a labor shortage and others are being forced to conduct layoffs

So, here are some ways to build trust in the workforce: 

Be Transparent

The speakers at Talent Exchange Live overwhelmingly suggested that employers must communicate with their team regularly. They should be honest with workers about what is happening on the ground and how the company is poised to confront challenges. In addition, managers should encourage employees to ask questions and be open about their concerns, too. 

Support Employee Growth

Another way to convince employees that the company is trustworthy is for managers to help workers grow personally and professionally. Obviously, providing learning and development programs that help them gain much-needed skills is one step. Another is offering mentorship and guidance on how to move forward with their career. Providing access to a network of professionals, who can answer questions and offer guidance is imperative. In addition, organizations should provide equitable opportunities to gain new skills, apply them on the job, and experience internal mobility. 

Care for Your People 

The breach of trust that comes when people are laid off in droves or merely neglected without being provided living wages or being worked to the bone is what led to the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. Putting the human back into Human Resources is the solution. Demonstrating that employers – the leaders in the organization – care about what happens to the talent is vital. This can come in many forms.

Having leaders, who are respectful and show empathy, is the minimum. In addition, employers can ask how their people are doing, try to comfort them in these hard times, and provide access to help for mental health and wellness. Being kind costs nothing and is an effective way to care for people. 

Consider Alternatives to Layoffs

Reduction in force is an easy solution. In one swoop, employers cut head count and grow budgets by ridding of salary and benefits packages. However, layoffs prove to people that employers can turn on a dime. After all, the same HR leaders, who recruited them and groomed them for a new role when they were hired, simply cut them off. Layoffs mean that the company is taking away the livelihood – the ability to pay bills, put food on the table, and have some sense of secuirty – of their people. 

If a company can find other ways to save money or turn to a restructuring that does not require removing anyone or convince the whole team to take a pay cut to avoid letting anyone go, they will gain loyalty. People will recognize what they have done to help them and protect their livelihood.  

How are you building trust among employees? Let us know in the comments. 

Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro for Pexels

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