By: Susan Ruhl
Rise Above the Risk
Call it what you want − being laid off or downsized, getting dismissed or fired, receiving your walking papers − when employees lose their jobs, it hurts. And a large number of employees, HR or not, boss or not, have experienced it. So why then, when we are faced with layoffs do we not do everything in our power to help those being let go? You may think that you are in fact offering a fantastic severance package but we often see over looked aspects that leave the departing employee feeling cold.
When you are conducting a layoff, be it one person or one hundred, it’s important to follow some guidelines to make sure that the departing employee feels as supported in this time of transition as possible. This is just as important for the remaining employees as it is for the departing employees. Layoffs may need to happen to cut costs but the effect of layoffs done poorly can impact productivity and poor employee morale.
When conducting a layoff consider these factors:
1. Make sure you consult an attorney. Getting the advice of an employment attorney will help you avoid any legal missteps that could ultimately cost the company.
2. Hire an outplacement firm. It is hard to lose your job and it is hard to watch your friends and coworkers lose their jobs. Offering help can do a lot to alleviate diminished productivity, lessen the threat of a lawsuit and keep your unemployment rate from skyrocketing.
3. Train and script managers with concise messaging. I can’t tell you how often I listen to messaging that makes me cringe. It is important to prepare and practice.
4. Support leaders in creating messaging for the business reasons for the terminations. It’s important to take the emotion out of the situation as much as possible. It is a very emotional time for everyone involved and harboring on this aspect only makes it more difficult.
5. Create good and consistent internal messaging so that the remaining employees understand why this is necessary. If you have a transparent culture, explaining the why and how people were selected is very beneficial.
6. Work to create a good external PR message. Media is kinder when they have a heads up than when they find out the “scoop” on their own. You want them telling your story, not theirs.
These are just a few of the items that are necessary to pay attention to when working with a layoff. What are some steps that you would like to see included in your company?