By: Megan Barry
While many companies are still navigating how to cope with the Great Resignation as CNBC recently reported 44% of workers are seeking new jobs, other organizations are on the opposite side of the pendulum, facing the harsh reality that often follows post-pandemic: layoffs. Whether due to budget cuts, reorganization planning, or a merger and acquisition, a reduction-in-force (RIF) can result in the layoff of one or hundreds of individuals. How employees are treated during this time can pay long-term dividends to a company’s future brand and recruiting efforts when the market does recover.
To make layoffs less painful and damaging, we suggest employers take the following actions to conduct research on how to handle layoffs as a leader and how to layoff employees more compassionately:
- Plan and Prepare:
When it’s communicated that budget cuts are coming and downsizing is necessary, you may feel pressure to take immediate action. However, be sure to take your time – plan and prepare. Use this as an opportunity to review your workforce plan and ensure that the right talent remains to sustain your operations and customers. Identify critical roles based on current and future business needs, assess re-hiring costs, and evaluate the difficulty of replacing laid-off employees. Once you have identified the impacted jobs and notifications are imminent, timing and planning are critical. Gather the appropriate stakeholders, including human resources, legal, and other senior leaders who will help you prepare. Script communication plans, exit strategies, gathering of belongings, IT and security considerations, day and time of notifications, etc.
- Train Your Managers:
Whether this is your first time conducting a layoff notification or you’re a seasoned human resources professional who has assisted with multiple RIFs, your employees and colleagues may be experiencing a change of this magnitude
for the first time. Train your managers on how to handle the layoff by delivering a notification message effectively and equipping them with the tools and resources to ensure the conversation is professional, not personal. For example, managers should avoid making promises that they can’t keep – such as, “as soon as the business picks back up, we will rehire you.” All the employee will hear is, ‘rehire.’ You don’t know if and when the business will pick back up. Instead, managers should take the time to deliver the message with empathy and compassion. They shouldn’t detach from humanity, but this is not a time for the manager to express their insecurities; “this is really hard for me.” Well, it is much harder for the person losing their job.
- Treat Employees with Respect and Dignity:
Whether the employees you’re letting go have dedicated their lives working for you or have only been contributing to the organization for a short period of time, they are human. Treat them with the same respect and dignity you took while recruiting them into the company. Create an FAQ sheet and be prepared to answer questions around benefits, severance, etc., immediately rather than making the employee wait for an answer from you. If possible, extend medical benefits and offer outplacement services. Certain outplacement benefits provide the employee a dedicated career coach to support them during these challenging times. The career coach can offer support guidance and quickly empower the employee during this difficult time. You will know that someone is watching out for their wellbeing, and they are not at home, alone.
- Take care of the Survivors:
Don’t forget about the employees who will remain with the organization after the layoffs. You should provide equal support to those who stay with the organization as many of them will be suffering from survivor’s guilt, more responsibilities, and other layoff effects. If possible, conduct quick pulse surveys to gain perspective on the impact on your team. Manager leadership and communication will be critical factors in bringing the organization back to “pre-layoff” productivity, rebuilding, and sustaining employees’ morale. It is essential to reassure the people in the organization that they have value and that you respect their contributions.
If your organization is preparing for how to handle layoffs and seeking immediate outplacement support, call (855) 865-4400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our
dedicated support team members will be happy to assist your organization with how
to handle laying off employees during this time. If you’re searching for more information about our outplacement services or virtual
outplacement services and how they can benefit your organization, please contact us.