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How to navigate layoff anxiety as a people manager (with template)

We've provided the exact words you need to address layoff anxiety on your team.

Finding the right words to address tough stuff isn’t always easy, and when it comes to workplace topics, there are fewer tougher than the (real or imagined) threat of layoffs. Still, sometimes you’ve got to say something.

If you and your team can’t avoid the elephant in the room any longer, we’ve put together a blanket communication for you to get started. The script below offers key phrases and points you can borrow and adapt to address concerns your own team may be feeling. We wrote it with empathy, transparency, and care top of mind, creating something to help you drive connection in a time of uncertainty and anxiety.

A quick word of caution

I don’t know your company’s culture, commitment to transparency, or messaging (including a lack thereof) around layoffs and job anxiety. We're providing you a great starting point if you’re unsure of how to put words to such a tricky topic, but I encourage you to work with the right folks to get this right and check your judgment if you feel unsure. Your HRBP, People team, department leadership, or a trusted colleague are all great places to start.

Make it your own

Feel free to edit and make adjustments to reflect your own voice. The script includes a variety of common questions that may arise, but not all of it may apply to you right now. Take as much or as little of what we’ve provided to address a particular question, concern, or sentiment that surfaces on your team.

In person? Remote? Hybrid? This can work as a spoken script or inspiration for talking points, or as a written communication or response. You know where you have the most impact with your team; go with your gut and deliver accordingly.

You've got this.

Download the layoff anxiety communication script to make instant edits that fit your situation and team needs.

Template: Layoff Anxiety Communication

Hey Team,

I want to take a minute to address something that may be top of mind for you lately, as we continue to read about layoffs across our and other industries. First and foremost, I want to be clear that this isn’t me coming to you with updates or new concerns that impact us here at [Company]. I just care about you and figured it would be a miss on my part not to address something that I imagine a lot of us have feelings about.

When we see layoffs at [Competitor/Big Name Company/Peer Company/Recent High-Profile Layoff/Company We All Thought Was Infallible], it can be very easy to worry and catastrophize about the state of our own jobs. I know this because I see the same news and I feel it too. And I suspect it leaves many of us wondering if we’re next, if we’re safe, if we should be worried.

And that very question, the question of “are we safe?” is always going to be a tricky one to answer, because I’d love to give you an infallible answer, but the truth is I can’t. The best I can ever do is to clarify and over-communicate what I do know. So I wanted to offer some of those points today. Here’s what I know:

  • I know that as of today, I’m not privy to any knowledge of a change in workforce impacting any teams. Nothing about today is different from yesterday, except that today’s the day I decided to bring this up with you all.

  • I know that as of [recent survey results/all-hands question/communication], some team members are feeling increased anxiety around this. And I know that it serves no one to pretend the anxiety doesn’t exist.

  • I know I’m committed to helping each of you continue establishing yourself as an important contributor to the success of this company. And that you can always tell me what you need more of from me to feel clear, driven, and supported in your work.

  • I know that our financials, as [I understand them/as recently shared in XYZ/as discussed at last ABC meeting, etc.], are [state of financials].

  • I know that the company’s taken some steps to safeguard our financial position, including [steps if applicable - bonus freeze, hire freeze, comp change freeze, lower exec salaries, etc.].

  • I know that, even if [I have no reason to think we’ll be impacted/our CEO remains confident/our financials and outlook are stronger than ever/etc.], it’s hard to watch our friends, our family, and colleagues we respect at other companies go through layoffs at other organizations. I know you’re all caring, empathetic people, and that even just witnessing people you care about go through a layoff is hard. I get it.

I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me what all of our careers will look like in six months, or a year, or ten years from now. But I recognize that in certain cases I do have a more direct line of sight to [leadership/projects or projections/department discussions and decisions/etc.] than you all have. So I want to reiterate my commitment to you all that when it comes to transparency. I will always let you know as much as I responsibly can, especially as it pertains to your ability to do great work here together. I know none of this is fun to think or talk about, or to witness on such a scale in the job market at large. If you’re having a tough time with it, please know I get it and my door is always open if you want to talk about it. Here are some additional resources that are also at your disposal:

  • [summary of/link to benefit or perk supporting mental health and wellness]

  • [summary of/link to benefit or perk supporting mental health and wellness]

  • [summary of/link to benefit or perk supporting mental health and wellness]

I’m proud to be part of this team and to work with you all. Watching hard things happen and fretting about them is never fun. And at the same time, I’m so grateful for the privilege of earning my livelihood alongside you all.

There is always something to celebrate - the hard work and dedication of all of you, the work we do both individually and as a team, the way you care for one another and for our customers, and today in particular [big, badass win your team recently accomplished or the company achieved]. Let’s not ever forget that we’re a pretty awesome team, and if we see each other feeling distracted, tense, or anxious, let’s remember to continue taking great care of each other.

If you ever need me, you know where to find me.



A manager sits at a desk with his computer open, his head turned to the right as he contemplates what to share with his team about layoff anxiety.

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