The Grinch: Layoffs Before Holidays

 In Blog

By: Shawna Simcik

The Grinch: Layoffs Before Holidays

As we near the end of the year, professional calendars fill up quickly with meetings to discuss fiscal year-end, 2018 strategic planning begins and, of course, holiday parties are planned. The holiday party is important for employee engagement, morale and to celebrate all the demanding work your team has put into the business throughout 2017, but one overlooked step as companies prepare for the new year is taking a look at the current business state and accounting for any actions that need to be taken by the end of the year. Layoffs may be part of this year-end strategy.

At ICC, we are often asked about doing notifications near the holidays. Unfortunately, it is a harsh reality of the workplace; business does not stop simply because Santa is loading up the sled.

Here are a few tips from ICC about layoffs in the fourth quarter.

  1. Do it with compassion and dignity. As my colleague Susan Ruhl stated in Glassdoor, adopt compassionate HR policies all year long. Don’t treat the employee like a criminal, notify them of the business decision quickly. Offer severance benefits for the time the employee who has dedicated to your business success. Give as much notice as possible. This is just good HR practice, but don’t delay the message. As soon as you know that layoffs are imminent, your ducks are in a row and all legal considerations have been taken into consideration, rip off the Bandaid.
  2. Do it before the holidays – don’t wait. It may seem counter-intuitive to notify an employee before the holidays, but we believe it can be worse once the employee has purchased the expensive gifts for their family. Notifying them before the holidays may allow them more time to budget for the holidays appropriately.
  3. Give as much notice as possible. Offer outplacement support services without time constraints. When it comes to downsizing and layoffs you want to make sure you do it in a kind and compassionate way. Tell the employee the news that they will be receiving support services and you are offering them outplacement assistance. Not only is is the right thing to do but there are many business reasons for supporting departing employees. Reduced likelihood of litigation, shorter time on unemployment roles and increased morale for the employees left behind are just a few examples. One mistake employers will often make is offering a time limited outplacement service such as a one month or three-month program. Unfortunately, this doesn’t often work during the holidays. Often, we hear employees who want to take time off during the holidays to ‘get their head on strait’ and celebrate with their family. However, with time limited-programs,  their support service may have expired before they ever really got started on their transition. At ICC, out outplacement programs are not time-based and offer the employee the flexibility to use their program when it is most convenient for them.

There is never a good time for layoffs, and the holidays can make these decisions that much more difficult. However, business demands can change quickly, and there are a host of reasons to lower overhead before the start of a new year, but it is how you do it that can have the lasting impact on your company.


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