Layoffs and Low Workplace Morale

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My job has been a bit rough lately. I’m in academia and the university I work for has recently handed down major budget cuts from central administration. The cuts are sweeping and are affecting every department, even those that had been doing well financially (like mine!). As part of the mandatory cuts, my Department Head recently had to let go of one staff member and one faculty member.

I’ve never worked anywhere before when layoffs like this have occurred. It’s just the worst. Many folks in the office have developed personal friendships with colleagues and losing a team member means more work for everyone else. It all begs the question..

How do you all handle super low morale in your workplace?

I have a leadership role within my unit and I know others will be looking to me in the wake of these layoffs. People want reassurance that their positions are safe and there’s a whole mix of emotions right now – sad, mad, scared, etc. And just on an interpersonal level, morale is in the gutter. I don’t want to be insensitive to the situation, but is there a way to help folks cope with the losses and to move toward a more positive work environment?

I’d love to hear about others’ thoughts or past experiences. Right now is such a tough time. Inflation means so many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck. And when you know people personally – know their kids names and sports and their hobbies and interests, etc. – it makes it that much harder to lose them during economic downturns.

And at the same time, everyone wants to enjoy their workplace. We spend so much of our lives at work – it’s terrible for it to feel like an icky place to go in the morning. We’ve historically had so much comradery and our teams are so close. I’d hate to see these losses cause permanent damage to the culture of the department.

Any sage advice from others who have walked this path before?

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