Handling Layoffs with Compassion

Proactive management is essential when a company faces the harsh reality of having to lay off members of its workforce. A transition process needs to consider the members who are separating from the team and those who are staying behind.

Develop an Overall Strategy

A comprehensive strategy should be developed as soon layoffs become necessary. The process should include the following components:

  • The process of selecting which employees to lay off is a delicate matter that you must handle with great discretion. You should make these decisions behind closed doors, and managers must understand the importance of keeping the matter private. Leaks can be devastating to the morale of the team and make recovering very difficult.
  • Separation plan. A detailed separation plan needs to consider who will be issuing the notification of layoff and how the layoff will be explained. Prepare for the range of emotion you may encounter during the notification process. The plan should also include what will happen immediately following notification. Will employees continue working or will that be their final moment of employment? Will they be escorted to gather their belongings and say goodbye to co-workers?
  • Transition assistance. Consider how to assist the separated employees with their career transitions. Will you offer outplacement support as part of the process? If so, what will that look like? Career-counseling services, letters of recommendation, and networking opportunities are a few options for assistance.

Manage Employee Morale

Layoffs can have a profound effect on the morale of the employees left behind. It’s important for management to communicate with the team as openly as possible about why the layoffs were necessary. The staff needs to know the decision was difficult. Employees who are staying may express anger and resentment. It’s wise to respond in a compassionate and respectful manner. Hosting discussion sessions at which employees can ask questions will help them feel heard.

Seek Feedback

After the dust has settled, asking the employees who remain for honest feedback about the process can be a valuable opportunity for management growth. Feedback will be the most honest and valuable if a process is set up for it to be anonymously submitted.

No matter how careful a business is, laying off employees puts a company at risk for lawsuits. The attorneys at Simon | Paschal PLLC are experienced employment and business law attorneys who can help you carefully construct a lay-off strategy designed to help your employees and protect your business. Contact us to explore how we can help.

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