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Conducting [More] Compassionate Layoffs

ICC May 20, 2019 0 Comments

By: Meredith Masse

When faced with conducting layoffs, the best companies to work for do everything in their power to help those being let go. In fact, they go beyond the standard severance package and include compassionate outplacement services as well as “after care” for remaining employees.

However, we often see beneficial activities overlooked during layoffs that could help impacted employees feel even the slightest bit better (or at least less bad) about being let go. Some companies also forget to make proactive plans for restoring the morale of the “survivors” upon whom the company must rely to return productivity to normal.

When conducting a layoff, whether it consists of a single person or an entire site closure, following helpful guidelines will ensure the departing as well as the remaining employees feel as supported in this time of transition as possible. Layoffs typically need to happen to cut expenses, but the effect of poorly organized and shoddily messaged layoffs will cost the company even more greatly than the headcount savings in the long run.

When conducting a layoff consider adding these steps to your plans:

  1. Consult an attorney. Getting the advice of an employment attorney will help you avoid any legal missteps that could ultimately cost the company even more money.
  2. Engage a reputable outplacement firm. It’s incredibly hard to lose your job, and it’s hard to see your friends and coworkers lose theirs. Offering compassionate outplacement services can do a lot to alleviate diminished productivity, lessen the threat of a lawsuit and keep your turnover rate from skyrocketing.

How do I make sure an outplacement firm will be a true partner? Consult recipients of their outplacement services, not just the company contact who purchased those services, from the past. Get a clear picture of exactly how separated employees were treated by the outplacement firm and what the program really included versus relying solely on the word of the purchaser who never experienced the services directly.

  1. Support leaders in creating messaging focused on both the business reasons for the terminations and the efforts to care for those impacted. It’s important to take some emotion out of the situation by clearly communicating the business needs and reasons for reductions. But, only focusing messaging on “it’s just business” can quickly come across as cold. Remember to highlight the assistance the company is providing to support impacted employees whose colleagues are carefully watching carefully how their friends are being treated.
  2. Train and script managers with concise messaging. At minimum, provide managers involved in notification meetings with how to briefly give the business reasons for the separation, then support them in preparing and practicing their communication to demonstrate compassion.
  3. Create clear and consistent internal messaging so remaining employees understand why the reduction is necessary. If you have a transparent culture, explaining the “why” and “how” behind the reasons certain positions were selected can be beneficial. And, again, mention the assistance the company is providing to support impacted employees so “survivors” understand what the company is doing to help their former colleagues.
  4. Work to create a clear, compassionate external PR message. Media is kinder when they have a heads-up rather than when they find out the “scoop” on their own. You want them telling your story, not theirs, so the community the company serves has correct information.

These are a few extra, yet critical, steps to take during a layoff. What among these or others would you like to see your own company take?

To learn more about how ICC integrates learning into your employees workflow, contact us at [email protected], call us at 855-865-4400 or check out the website at https://www.innovateicc.com/talent-management-consulting-accelerator-management-leadership-development-program/

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