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Building Resilience: Team Strategies Post Layoffs

team building after layoffs

Discover strategies for team building after layoffs and innovation in challenging times. Empower your team post-layoffs with actionable activities and practical tips for a resilient future.

Navigating the aftermath of layoffs is a delicate dance, and those who emerge as “layoff survivors” often find themselves as the unsung heroes, the leftovers, left to pick up the pieces. Ironically, these survivors are typically individuals the company values and wishes to retain. However, the downsizing process leaves them grappling with the aftermath, and discontent simmers. As we explore the reasons behind increased employee turnover post-layoffs, let’s delve into strategies and team building after layoffs to keep the remaining team on course and prevent a downward spiral.


Innovation Drop

Research suggests that downsizing saps the company’s “innovative energy.” On the flip side, McKinsey reveals that companies sustaining innovation throughout crises not only weather the storm but also outperform their market average by over 30%. This success extends into the next 3 to 5 years.

Innovation Offsite Exercise: 1-2-4:

  1. Brainstorm solo (2-5 mins).
  2. Pair up. Build on ideas (2-5 mins).
  3. Pair the pairs. As a foursome, develop ideas noticing similarities and differences.
  4. Share one important idea from each group.
  5. Defer judgment. Repeat and don’t recycle.

There are more structural tactics and cultural elements to innovation. More on that another day.


Productivity Slump

Post-layoffs, survivors don’t immediately thrive. Instead, 63% experience anxiety, and 45% grapple with frustration. While organizations witness an initial boost in productivity, this surge is short-lived and often followed by a pervasive “malaise” within the organization. Team building after layoffs can feel hard, maybe even counter-intuitive, but it’s more important than ever.

Productivity Offsite Exercise: Lightning Jam

  1. Identify problems individually (7 mins).
  2. Present problems without weighing in (4 mins per person).
  3. Vote with dots on the most important issues to address (5 mins).
  4. Standardize the challenge with ‘How might we.’ Open up solutions (5 mins).
  5. Solution sprint. Generate as many ways to solve the challenge (7 mins).
  6. Vote & prioritize by counting votes (10 mins).
  7. Rank the effort on an effort/impact scale (5 mins).
  8. List actionable tasks for the next 2 weeks (5 mins).


High-Performer Slide

Trimming the workforce may leave brighter stars, but their radiance dims amid reduced autonomy and a hesitancy to take risks. Autonomy, a priority for high performers, takes a hit during layoffs, leading to a reluctance to venture out onto a limb.

High-performer Activity: Autonomy meets Integration

  1. Use the 1-2-4 activity to identify challenges.
  2. Draw three columns: Autonomy booster, Integration booster, and a good mix in the middle.
  3. Ask: What would help with integration? Drill down past platitudes like ‘good communication’ (5 mins).
  4. Ask: What would help with autonomy? (5 mins).
  5. Encourage a yes-and approach: How could our actions or processes boost both? (3 mins solo then 5 mins in groups of 2 or 4).


Inescapably, layoffs are painful, whether you’re on the receiving or surviving end. However, proactively addressing the challenges and nurturing the creativity and productivity of the remaining team can pave the way for a more resilient and thriving organization post-downsizing.

Want to chat strategies and team building after layoffs or discuss burnout retreats. Drop us a note.