Business can be tough. Sometimes challenges arise that require you to close down a location. These challenges could be due to a loss of market share, a poor economy, or even mismanagement of company funds.
While business can be tough (remember 2008?), it can also be great! Sometimes your company can do so well that it needs to close a location to move to an even bigger facility. Or even to move to a different geographic area where there are more people with expertise in a specific field.
Whatever the reason, you’ll still have one problem: how do we break the news to our employees that we are moving our office location?
Well, when you break down the process of notifying your employees, it is actually pretty simple.
Employee Relocation Letter: Steps in the Process
Before we get to what to include in the employee relocation letter, it is important to review the steps in the process leading up to giving employees said letters.
We must also note that this article is written from the perspective of a human resources professional. It doesn’t take into account the processes that a facilities manager or a supply chain leader (etc) need to complete when relocating a company space.
The process can start in several ways for human resources professionals. Depending on the strategic input an organization allows from human resources, you could be involved from very early on in the decision. This makes sense if you are relocating due to a lack of talent in a specific geographic area.
When the decision to relocate a facility has been finalized, the bulk of HR’s work then comes into play.
Your human resources team needs to answer the following questions:
- Will we try to relocate any of these employees to the new location?
- If so, what will be our budget?
- What allowances will be given to the employees?
- For those employees who won’t be relocating, what severance pay and benefits will we be giving them?
While dealing with a layoff is a hard task for most HR professionals, conducting a facility relocation is sometimes considered even more stressful, because of having to both layoff and relocate employees all at the same time.
So, depending on how you answered the questions above, your HR team will be responsible for either relocating employees, laying off employees, or a mixture of both.
If you can afford to relocate employees, it might be in your best interest to do so. Yes, it might be expensive, but studies show that the cost to find, hire, and onboard new employees is also very expensive. And with the former, you get to retain someone who has intrinsic knowledge of your organization, and will feel loyalty to your company as well.
It can also be normal to layoff certain employees whose skills won’t be useful at the new facility, while keeping others whose skills will still be needed. Check out our article about different selection methods for layoffs here.
Now that you have decided on what to do with your workforce, it is time to actually conduct the event.
While the following letter templates are great tools, they are not meant to standalone. Have employee’s managers provide the news in person, with a printed out letter available for said employee to take with them after the meeting for their own information.
If you are only laying off employees in your company’s relocation, skip to the section at the bottom of this blog for our layoff letter and script. If you are relocating your employees, continue with the following section.
Employee Relocation Letter: Your Letter Template
If you would like to directly download our template, click here.
Since you are offering to relocate these employees to your new location, your letter must take into account all of the information employees will need about the relocation.
Here are the sections you will need to cover in the employee relocation letter:
- Duration: Will the employee be relocated only for a certain amount of time? Or is this a permanent move?
- Payments: Will you be offering the employee an incentive to move? Or will you be offering reimbursements for moving expenses?
- Payment Policies: What happens if an employee only has to move a few miles? And what about if an employee leaves the company shortly after the relocation?
- Taxes: When moving locations, taxes from different areas will need to be taken into account.
- Temporary Living Assistance: Will you pay for employees to live temporarily in a hotel while relocating? Etc.
- Agreement: This is the section of the employee relocation letter where the company and the employee both sign off on the stipulations listed throughout the letter.
Now that you understand the different high level sections of the employee relocation letter, let’s break each of them down into more detail.
Generally when a facility closes and an employee is asked to relocate, it is on a permanent basis. An exception to this could be if you only need employees with certain types of skills, to be employed for a small time frame, before needing employees with different skill sets at the new location.
For example, let’s say that Jayhawk Manufacturing, who employs 30 basketball makers, is relocating to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to make hockey pucks (and stop making basketballs). The people who make basketballs don’t have the skills needed to make hockey pucks. Jayhawk Manufacturing might have a plan to phase out the manufacturing of basketballs over a 3 year period, which means they would need a portion of their basketball makers to move to Pittsburgh for a 3 year time frame.
What payments are you offering your employees to relocate? This could include a bonus incentive, moving reimbursements, etc. Your company might have a policy about how much you can offer employees based on their level within the organization. Make sure the amount of payments and reimbursements you are offering the employee is clearly stated.
For example, you could offer a $10,000 relocation bonus, and up to $10,000 in reimbursement for moving expense.
Companies don’t just give money away for free! Make sure that your employees understand what is required of them to receive the payments associated with relocating. This could be that they stay with the company for a certain amount of years, or meet certain performance goals.
Since bonuses are taxed differently, and moving locations could affect how people are taxed in different states or counties, make sure to let your employees know that you will be providing them with the proper tax documentation for filing in the next year.
Temporary Living Assistance
If your employees need to relocate on fairly short notice, they might need assistance with a temporary living situation. Several organizations have corporate housing for these sort of situations, so let people know if that is available. If it isn’t, it is possible to address this issue by offering more money for their moving reimbursements, or a separate payment specifically for temporary housing.
This part is simple enough! It is where both parties sign off on the agreement that said employee will relocate to the new facility, given the stipulations stated above in the letter.
You can see how this letter should look by downloading our ready to use template.
Employee Relocation Letter: When You Have To Deliver Bad News (Layoffs)
Not every facility relocation ends with employee relocation too.
You might have to layoff a portion of your employees, or all of them, depending on the business case.
If this situation arises, you’ll need a layoff script and a layoff letter template to help you conduct the event.
You can download our templates with these links:
Here is an explanation of what to include in your layoff script:
Part One - The Meeting Starts
The focus of this section is how to deliver the bad news.
Get to the point. Have your HR manager state what is happening and why as soon as possible. Don’t get into small talk about baseball games or the weather. This is a tough meeting and no amount of ‘warming up’ will make it any easier on you or your employee. In fact, it might make it even harder to deliver.
Here’s an example of what you can include in your own layoff script:
HR Manager: “As announced in late August, the division is adjusting our overall operation costs in response to the weakening demand for specialty products and this includes reducing staffing levels.”
“As a result, a number of positions at this facility are being eliminated and your position is one being affected.”
One of the main things to hit in this dialogue is the reason why the position has been eliminated. Put yourself in the employee’s position. What’s the first question you’d have? It’s, “why?” followed, most likely, by “what did I do?” It’s important to explain the reason in detail to minimize these hard-to-swallow thoughts.
Don’t take our word for it, either. Researchers from Columbia University found that departing employees took the news better when the reason was explained clearly. The full details of the study can be read here.
Part Two - The Middle
There are two stages to the middle of the meeting. We know that sounds like quite a bit, but hear us out because this is arguably the toughest part.
The first stage focuses on listening.
Yes, even though we said earlier that it’s important to stay on track and cut as much small talk as possible, it’s vital to give your exiting employee the time to respond to the news.
Make sure you note this in your layoff script so you don’t steamroll through the entire meeting leaving your now former employee in shock.
This means letting your employee vent (within reason, of course) and say what they need to say. Don’t interrupt them if you can. This section obviously changes based on the person you’re letting go. Some will want to speak while others will try to get out of there as fast as possible, which is understandable.
Next, your HR manager should step in and guide the meeting to outplacement services and severance packages. A layoff script is a good thing to have on hand for this transition because - regardless of how the employee reacts - you need a way to keep pushing forward no matter what. Having something written down or rehearsed helps you hit these reduction in force talking points at the appropriate times.
Outplacement and Severance Agreements
Any severance agreement worth its salt should come with an outplacement package. Here is a list of things you should look for in a provider.
Why is this important? Well, like severance pay, outplacement shows that your company cares about where the displaced staff member will end up. You’re don’t want to throw them out on the street.
They gave a large portion of time and energy to your business and now, more than ever, is a good time to show your support for their future. Not only does this help out your staff incredibly and make the task of letting them go easier, it also keeps your reputation intact.
Here’s an example of how this section can go in your layoff script:
HR Manager: “We prepared a Severance Agreement for you to review, which will explain the benefits being extended to you.” Review the key points of the agreement.
“Your last day physically at work will be October 10. Your last day of employment will be January 8. You have 45 days to decide if you want to sign. If you choose to sign the severance agreement, you will be placed on a paid leave of absence for a period of 90 days.”
“After the 90 days, you will receive severance pay according to the company severance schedule based on your years of service. You are also eligible for outplacement assistance that will begin immediately.”
“Normal tax withholding will be done for the severance pay to insure compliance with federal and state laws. We recommend you share the agreement with an attorney before signing as it is a legal document.”
Once that is over with, note in your layoff script to reiterate the outplacement services and other benefits that the outgoing employee will receive, such as their 401K, pensions, and stock options. This reaffirms that you want to help them through this troubling time.
Part Three - Transition of Power
At this stage in your layoff script, you and your HR manager need to figure out how to transition the outgoing employee’s workload. This usually involves making an agreement for them to finish their tasks and projects or finding out if your current team can absorb the loss, communicating layoffs to remaining staff will smooth this part over.
If you treat your employee with the respect they deserve, following the steps above, the transition of work should go over without a hitch. Pre-planning for the workload shift is definitely a good idea, too.
Part Four - The Exit
Once all of the above is said, note in your layoff script to collect any belongings that are company property, such as badges and keys.
This stage sounds simple, but it’s really based off how the employee is handling the news. It’s common advice not to let the employee back to their desks, mainly because emotions are high, it's awkward for everyone involved, and, of course, it’s good to protect company property. (Note: This stage is heavily based on your company’s culture. You want to do the most respectable thing possible.)
Bonus Tip: If there is a large scale layoff, it’s a good idea to have support, such as outplacement services or an employee assistance program (EPA), on hand to help outgoing employees emotionally cope and move on efficiently.
If you have a solid job elimination script and these supportive systems in place, this unfortunate meeting will be a lot easier to handle and execute. It’s important to note, though, that a layoff script isn’t one size fits all.
Using the rules above, you can craft a meaning, easy-to-follow document to deliver the news effectively and tactfully, leaving you and your outgoing employee on the best terms possible.
And here is what to include in a layoff letter:
Like any letter, the facilities relocation 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 experienced a downturn in client revenue, and have aligned our new business lines to meet our new objectives taking this into account. We are taking this action to adapt to the market with new products & processes. Unfortunately, this action means that we have to relocate our facilities to ________.
Due to this relocation, 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 why the company is changing strategy and relocation, 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 relocating.
For example, you could say this from the letter example above:
“Due to this relocation, 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 facilities relocation 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.
Employee Relocation Letter: The Final Say
No matter the reason why your company decides to relocate, your human resources team will still have to handle the employee relocations or layoffs that incur because of it. Make sure your team is prepared for conducting these event with our sample relocation and layoff letters above.