Layoffs should be a last resort to handle an economic downturn. If, after considering all your alternatives, you determine that layoffs are necessary, then it’s important to handle layoffs effectively. Employees understand that during tough economic times that difficult choices have to be made. It’s therefore important to handle layoffs well to maintain a positive reputation for your company.
When working with clients who are undergoing layoffs, some critical areas on which we focus with them include:
1. Developing communication strategies for all employees
- Effective communication strategies can include written announcements, staff meetings, and all employee information sessions.
- When done well, companies are able to effectively communicate the reasons for the layoffs while ensuring morale and productivity are not adversely affected.
2. Preparing termination packages
- It’s very important to ensure that the notice periods and severance amounts for each employee are properly determined, taking legal obligations into account to minimize costly disputes or litigation.
- When deciding on termination dates for employees, important dates such as birthday and employment anniversaries should be avoided. Also, it is not recommended to conduct layoffs on a Friday, or prior to a major holiday, to mitigate the emotional impact on the affected employee.
3. Creating Frequently Asked Questions documents
- Employees, both those who are being laid off and those who remain, often have lots of questions about how they will be affected.
- Having an FAQ document created in advance of the announcement which includes anticipated questions can alleviate anxiety among the staff. It demonstrates that the business decision is well thought out and that the employees’ concerns have been considered.
4. Coordinating meetings with impacted employees
- It’s important to have a consistent message and script to follow during the individual employee meetings, particularly for inexperienced managers who may be unsure how to conduct a layoff meeting.
- It’s recommended that one-on-one meetings be held with each affected employee, in a private location, away from the prying eyes of other staff.
5. Arranging for outplacement, counselling and job search services
- Having an experienced outplacement counsellor on site when conducting layoff meetings can be very helpful for managing the various emotional reactions that employees will have.
- Providing job search workshops can be a very cost effective mechanism to demonstrate a caring attitude, while also helping employees to find alternative employment.
6. Preparing transition plans
- Creating effective transition plans are essential to ensuring that employees and the business are reorganized post-layoff to produce the desired results.
- These uncertain economic times are forcing small- and medium-sized businesses to consider whether layoffs are appropriate to handle the downturn. Conducting layoffs should be a last resort, after considering or implementing other options to mitigate the need for this costly and disruptive exercise.
Using advisors, such as HR consultants, employment lawyers, and outplacement providers, who are very experienced in handling layoffs can help businesses to avoid many of the landmines and traps that come with the territory.
Copyright 2009 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.