Organizational restructuring is a stressful time for all parties involved. Executives feel overwhelmed by the weight of making decisions that have heavy impact, employees feel stressed about their future, and human resources professionals worry about how they will effectively communicate all of these changes to the organization’s workforce.
That is why having a sample layoff letter due to restructuring available for your human resources team is so important. Having this template will help alleviate one of the many stressors that plague human resources teams when planning a huge restructuring.
In this blog we will dig into what “restructuring” really means, everything that you should include in this letter, and other resources that will help your human resources team with this process.
Now, let’s get to it…
What is restructuring?
Restructuring is the process of changing an organization to better fit the objectives of a business. For example, if your organization was to merge with another, you would probably have to restructure your departments because of human capital redundancies.
Or, if your organization decides to switch focus from one line of business to another, you could potentially have to restructure to have more staff supporting the new focus as opposed to the old one.
Simple enough, right?
Well, this process can get pretty complicated. A lot of your staff will have major changes to their role within the organization. Not only will you have to tell several people that they will start working on something completely different than they had previously, you will also have to tell some staff that they no longer have a position within the organization.
Take for example two pharmaceutical companies that merge together. After some analysis, you realize that the new objectives of the organization will need 90 scientists to succeed. After merging, you now have 120 scientists on staff, all working on various different projects.
As the HR professional in charge of this restructuring, you will have to analyze the skills needed to fulfill the new objective, and identify people best suited to perform in this new role. After that you will have to notify people that they will either begin working on a new project, or that they will be let go because of the lack of headcount available after the restructuring.
What should you include in a layoff letter due to restructuring?
Like any letter, the restructuring layoff letter needs to start by addressing the employee by name and getting straight to the point.
While it may seem like an okay idea to beat around the bush and break the news lightly, it’s not. Nothing you can possibly write in this letter is going to make the employee happier to receive it. So, start the letter quickly by saying what is going on.
Something like this:
"Dear [Employee Name],
As you know, we have recently completed our merger with [company name], and have aligned our new business lines to meet our new objectives. We are taking this action to adapt to the market with new products & processes. Unfortunately, this action means that restructuring with in your department is necessary.
Due to this restructuring, we have come to the decision to eliminate positions within the organization. It is with deepest regret that I must notify you of your position being eliminated from the organization."
Explain that the company is restructuring due to whatever reason and that their job is impacted. If you want to give a little more detail, wait until the second paragraph.
This brings us to the next point:
The Middle of the Letter
Okay, so we’re midway down the page now. You can take this time to explain a little bit about why the layoff happened. Just like the layoff meeting - which you will still have to have, by the way. Layoff letters don’t get you out of having a conversation even if they overlap in content - you should explain that this is a move based on X reasons.
Don’t put blame on the employee. Don’t try to console them too much either. Explain, openly, why your company is restructuring.
For example, you could say this from the letter example above:
“Due to these new objectives causing restructuring, we have come to the decision to eliminate positions within the organization. It is with deepest regret that I must notify you of your position being eliminated from the organization.”
This shows that you care while also telling them what is going on. It consoles but not too much. You’re not in there apologizing and trying to make the process feel better.
When learning how to write a restructuring layoff letter, the most important thing to remember is that this letter has to be professional, a bit personal, but - most importantly - honest. That means you have to keep a bit of distance in your writing while also knowing when to bring it in.
The Middle: Part Two
The middle actually has two parts to it. (Surprise!) The first, as we just said, is all about alerting the staff member of what is happening and how they are impacted. That part needs to be short and to the point.
Next, you need to transition the letter to setting up the layoff meeting. This involves stating that a member of HR will reach out to the staff member with a phone call to set up a time to go over the layoff process.
Alert the staff member that benefits will be discussed during this meeting. You can let the staff member know that there will be outplacement services included in these benefits in the letter, though, because it lets them know right off the bat that they won’t be going through this transition alone, which can ease tension.
Here’s an example of how this section can look:
“Someone from Human Resources will call you to set up a meeting in the coming days to discuss this process and the overall implications. The HR representative will discuss with you your separation benefits. These benefits include the use of an outplacement service for assistance in finding a new position through resume writing and career counseling services. Please feel free to ask this HR representative any questions in relation to the position elimination.”
You can also add in how severance works, too, if you have a policy on paper. For example, if severance pay is based on how long the employee was with the company, you can reiterate that policy in this letter. Just make sure you don’t end up explaining everything because that’s what the meeting is for and you don’t want to send the staff member a book - just a notification and brief explanation.
The End of the Letter
This section of the letter is super short. Really, you just want to thank the employee for all they have done at the organization and then sign off.
Again, it’s important to stay on task here. Don’t go on and on after you have explained what needs explained. You can simply end with a one sentence send off and then start to call those who are impacted by the event.
Here’s an example:
“We appreciate all of the good work you have done during your employment.
That should conclude your letter and allow you to send it off. However, you also have to make sure you handle the event in a legal way, which means checking in with your legal team, especially when you are letting go of a group or have staff members that are over the age of 40 years old.
Although layoffs that result from restructuring have a different origin than those caused by financial downturn, the resources needed to complete the reduction event are very similar. Download our resources below for assistance with your event: