Conducting layoffs is no one’s favorite job. No child grows up hoping to be the “layoff coordinator” and no adult builds a business with hopes of taking jobs away from one, ten, or a hundred people. But layoffs happen. Running a business is tough, and whether your company is restructuring, downsizing, or going through a temporary rough patch, it is important that you compassionately layoff employees. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and we’re here to help you figure out how.
The Wrong Way:
There are plenty of articles about mistakes companies make. Let’s sum them up quickly:
- Conference call announcements.
- Email layoff announcements.
- Post it or bulletin board layoff announcements.
- Deactivated access.
- No layoff announcement.
- Terrible severance packages.
The Right Way:
It sounds obvious, but compassionately is the best way to conduct layoffs. Some great articles have been written on the subject, but a few extra tips never hurt. Don’t conduct layoffs when they’re best for you, the manager. It may feel better to layoff an employee at the end of a day on a Friday, but it looks cowardly, and it probably feels that way too. Place the employee’s dignity on par with, or ahead of, your own. Treat your employees with respect. It is best to conduct a layoff in a face to face situation. No mass emails. No patched in conference calls or voicemails. Conduct layoffs in a manner that provides ample time for your employee to interact with you or their manager. The affected employees should be able to ask questions, and you should have the answers. It is often best to conduct these layoff meetings one on one but be careful with this.
If you can, when laying off employees it may be possible to help them find their next job. This can be done through referring them to other companies with similar openings, by sending them to career development resources who can aid in their employment, or by giving them a timetable for when you can hire them back. Some of these actions just aren’t feasible, especially if you’re laying off a large amount of people. If you even have the card of a helpful career development service, that could be enough. Provide your top employees, who you just couldn’t keep, with a good reference so they may begin the job search immediately. These small actions may be just enough to help your ex-employee flourish as they find their next job. Organizations may be machines, or at least feel that way, but people aren’t. Consider the employee to the best of your ability.
When it comes down to it, there are two things you need to do. The first, protect the person you’re laying off. Layoffs are rarely the fault of the individual, and you should make that clear, if possible. Second, remember that you will have employees left over who still work with and for you. These people will remember how you handled letting their coworkers go. They will remember if you did it in a compassionate way. They will remember your kind actions, and they will not hesitate to tell others when you are hiring again. Save your employees dignity and save your own respect. Layoffs never feel positive, but they don’t have to destroy.