Recently I had a colleague ask me for advice on how best to lay off their company staff. The situation surrounding the layoffs were quite fragile and she wanted to carry it out seamlessly. After our chat, I decided some notes I shared with her may be an interesting read for someone who may share the same experience.
At this time with our current economic challenges, companies have to do the dreaded “Down Sizing”. For any HR person or C.E.O this process can be daunting, seeing you have to be responsible somewhat, for ending people’s current livelihood.
Some companies have made mistakes in the past to think that layoffs only affect those who have to go. Research has however shown that months after Layoffs have been carried out; Companies still have to deal with the motivation issues of staff and even performance.
How can you carry out this task, professionally and with “less bloodshed”.
Here are some thoughts you may consider
1) Employ Strategy- “Point The RIGHT Fingers”
Most employers would know quite early that they would at some point need to shed some weight to reduce costs. You may think to employ regular reviews on different staff levels to measure staff effectiveness viz their co-workers and current salary levels. Here you may be able to establish your weakest links. Your staff would also know that the process was fair and could have been avoided. You may then establish a reason for severance as being based on performance and NOT because of “the recession”. The latter will create uncertainty and hopelessness within your organization, and be assured salaries can’t help the feeling it brings. Your productivity levels may dip if not careful.
2) Let People Go With A Soft Landing
Some schools of thought believe that laying-off staff should be impersonal and letters on desks or emails would do the job. However, the organization cannot be faceless when laying people off. Give an opportunity for them to have their questions answered. If not you run the risks of gossip and speculations being the order of the day, which can be definitely counter- productive.
3) What About The Dreaded Severance Package .
Oh come on! I can hear someone say…but there isn’t any money to give. Well if you can, it helps to give some months (at least 2 months of pay). If not there are more subtle ways of handling it, leaving the health insurance untouched until expired, or just a goodbye dinner with team-mates. It doesn’t have to be a shameful let go. Just the good bye would go a long way to help your team morale.
4) Deal With The After Math
If it’s a lot of people you have fired, it’s not wise to ignore the effects it would have on the other staff. So COMMUNICATE! Deal with the questions people may have, even if it has to be a collective meeting . People shouldn’t be made to feel they may be next…. That just ensures the next few months will be spent job hunting, AT YOUR OWN COST. People should know it’s wise to trust and invest in the future of the company. And it should be indeed!