Downsizing Checklist: 7 Tips for a Successful Reduction-In-Force
By: Shawna Simcik
Are these words being echoed in your workplace? Reduction in headcount, shift in strategy, experiencing layoffs, and/or going through a downsizing. It would surprise me in today’s competitive and highly political climate if you have not experienced this – as a manager, HR partner or as an employee who has lost their position. According to a recent report, more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies have downsized and virtually every sector has experienced reduction in workforce including trade unions and the federal government (Metro Denver Economic Development Corp, 7/2017). Today’s corporate realities, such as business decline, mergers/acquisitions, changing strategies, product modification, job simplification and organization culture change, leave companies no choice but to terminate employees or enact layoffs.
Whether you are ‘old-hat’ at layoffs or preparing for your first notification, preparation is key to navigating layoffs successfully. As you make your way through major organizational changes, you want to do the right thing by your people. You also want to maintain your good reputation and manage costs. Here are the Top 7 Tips for a Successful Reduction-In-Force:
1. Even before the words are spoken, be prepared for layoffs. Choose legal representation to help you answer tough litigation questions and create/review your termination letter; research how to conduct an adverse impact study; discuss with IT what steps would need be taken, if needed; and choose a compassionate outplacement partner. Get all your ducks in a row for easy implementation.
2. Once notifications are imminent, timing and planning are critical; create a termination strategy and be prepared. Termination strategies should include, but are not limited to, communication plans, exit strategies, gathering of belongings, IT and security considerations, day and time of notifications, etc.
3. On the day of layoffs, as written in the Great Commandments, treat thy neighbor as thyself. Treat your employees with respect and compassion. If you can help it, don’t conduct notifications over the telephone, in a group setting, or even worse, via email. Don’t walk employees out of the business as they are criminals. They have given you their time and commitment, do the same for them.
4. Avoid making promises that you 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/when the business will pick back up.
5. Communicate, communicate and then communicate again. Even if you or your management team does not have the answer – saying, ‘you don’t know’ is much more effective than ducking into your office with a closed door for the rumor mill to figure it out.
6. When you consider the impact of layoffs on the organization – don’t forget about the employees who will remain with the organization after the shift. Provide equal support to those who stay with the organization and those who are leaving. What is your organizational renewal plan after the notifications?
7. Offer Compassionate Outplacement Support. Whatever you call it – downsizing, layoffs, mergers, reorganization or restructuring, an employee losing a job is painful, emotional and often devastating. ICC can offer support, guidance and quickly empower the employee in his or her job search often helping the business mitigate or eliminate long-term, hidden costs of layoffs such as a tarnished reputation and potential legal action.
Even if this isn’t on your immediate horizon, downsizing is something that should not be handled last minute. Preparing for this type of business action is crucial for survival. Don’t take a “aim-fire-ready” approach. Contact ICC today to get your plans in place. www.InnovateICC.com 1-855-865-4400.