As a business owner, laying off your employees might be one of the most overwhelming and stressful decisions you have to make, especially when it’s the only option at hand. Announcing, communicating, and helping employees through a layoff might be an unpleasant experience, but it’s crucial to do everything possible to help the people you care about to transition or even find a new job smoothly.
What should you do when faced with the prospect of letting employees go? Your goal should be to make the transition as easy as possible while eliminating fear and anxiety in the impacted employees.
As an employer of choice, you should find ways to maintain trust even when times call for layoffs. Here are some of the ways to handle a layoff with the ultimate empathy and professionalism.
Establish a Solid Layoff Plan
The first thing is identifying the positions that will be eliminated. You should make sure you have all the details about eliminating this position and then iron out other things. Having a solid layoff plan will make the entire process go as smoothly as possible.
You should be prepared to deliver the layoff news causing the least tension as possible to those involved. Help notified employees to understand why you had to make that decision you did and whether or not you will need them for a transitional period. Be sure to thank them for their contributions to the organization.
Further, consider giving advance notice before the layoff. Meet with your organization’s legal team and check the local and state law requirements for laying off employees to avoid legal issues.
Communicate Transparently and with Care
It can be hard to have to restructure or lay off employees so that your business can continue operating. However, it’s crucial for leadership at your company to hold quarterly all-staff meetings about the fiscal health of the organization.
If you’re laying off employees, make sure to maintain the mutual respect you have established over time. After all, your team is the core of your company, and keeping secrets can lead to rumors that may cause people to jump ship.
If an employee asks, “why are we laying off?” be gentle, yet honest with your answer. You can tell them that it’s due to business reasons and nothing to do with them. You might be surprised at how your staff members appreciate your honesty.
Better still, give them a chance to ask more questions while addressing them in the best possible way.
Provide Outplacement Assistance
Layoffs and terminations are stressful situations for both the employer and employees. Luckily, outplacement assistance can help ease the transition.
Outplacement is a career assistance service provided by the employer as part of a severance package. It helps the laid-off employees to move on to another job or career. The employer-sponsored benefit focuses on improving the skills required for re-employment, such as writing cover letters and resumes, navigating job boards, networking, interviewing, and negotiating salaries.
Embracing outplacement assistance is one of the best things you can do for your employees. It shows that you care about laid-off employees by making sure they land on their feet.
Outplacement reduces stress for terminated employees, protects your company’s reputation, and boosts the morale of the team left behind. Further, the support helps the laid-off employees find a new job faster and more efficiently.
Give Incentives to Transitioning Employees
In some cases, you might need employees with extensive institutional knowledge to stay for a transitional period for knowledge transfer. Be precise on why you want them to stay for some time, which is to train the remaining employees in most cases.
There are several ways to incentivize employees to stay during this transitional period. You can offer a severance package or retain employees who might want to leave right away after the announcement.
Either way, it’s an ideal way for them to stick around for some time and do a good job while they’re there. It’s essential to allow them to process the news and see if they should accept the offer.
Follow Up with Laid Off Employees
The relationship between you and your employees doesn't have to end when they’re terminated or laid off. There can be some follow-up to make sure that the employees are doing okay. Check-in on their wellbeing, ensure they understand their rights and options, provide updates on available job opportunities, and assure them of the resources that continue to be available.
After all, handling lay-offs in a compassionate way means making sure departing employees are treated with respect and dignity, and don’t feel abandoned during tough times.
Handling Layoffs with Compassion
Undoubtedly, layoffs are hard on impacted employees and those who have to execute the layoffs. However, despite needing to let an employee go, you can still do it in a compassionate way that gives the employee hope for their future.
Above all follow the Golden Rule; treat others as you would want to be treated. Treat them as people who matter to you and your company and assure them that this situation is not their fault. This is so important to keep in mind when employees are at their most vulnerable moments.
During this time, remind employees of everything they bring to the table. You can do this by spelling out their unique strengths and reassuring them that they will continue to leverage the strengths in their future endeavors. Be specific about their contributions to the business and give them a sense of hope.
In addition, help them brainstorm their next step and the type of job they would like to have. You can wholeheartedly commit to helping them in their next role and when they find other opportunities, offer to coach them through the interview process.
It’s impossible to escape the pain and discomfort of laying off employees. Luckily, the above steps will help ensure the layoff news is delivered with compassion and empathy, ensuring employees leave with the utmost dignity and respect.
After all, you have the responsibility to send your employees off into the job market hopeful and inspired.