Layoffs are one of the most challenging sides of HR work. From changes in your industry to challenging financial times, adjusting your headcount is an inevitable, if unpleasant, part of running a business. While there are tough conversations to be had, we put together this list of our top five tips to make the process as smooth as possible for you and your team.Train Your Managers
You will need to rely on the energy and support of your leadership team to help keep morale high. They will be the eyes and ears for any concerns that you’re not able to pick up on or respond to yourself. Hold a meeting with your managers to inform them of the changes, why they’re happening, and prepare them to have their own sit down conversations with their respective teams. Keeping your leadership team involved and informed eases tensions and ensures the remaining team members have available resources if they need to talk to someone. Ask them to sit their teams down and explain the changes. Equip them with a one-pager of key messages so they are all using consistent language about the changes and how they’ll affect the larger organization.
Choose the Right Place and Time
Setting a calendar invite for before standard office hours can often ignite anxiety and fear in employees, and sharing the news during office hours can also have its own set of challenges. Choose a location that is away from your standard exit so you can walk the employees out after the conversation without them feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Have an HR representative or second leader present to act as a witness and additional support system. Keep the meeting short and to the point—15-30 minutes is ideal. Share the news in a succinct way, and if the employee needs to voice their feelings, quietly listen without reacting or responding. Be compassionate, but don’t say more than needs to be said. Ask them to leave any company property on their desk, and give them the option of gathering their things after the meeting or at a later date outside of office hours.
Meet Legal Compliance
There are different procedures legally required by the government depending on your layoff size. Visit this page if you’re in Canada to learn more, and if you’re in the U.S.—each state has different requirements, so be sure to visit your respective government site to prevent any missteps that could result in a lawsuit.
Get IT Support
You will have to close down email accounts, change passwords and protect any intellectual property that your employees have access to. Equip your IT team with notice and a checklist well in advance of the meeting so they are prepared to take the right steps to protect your business on the day of.
Help Them Transition
From having a recommendation letter ready when you deliver the news, to researching alternative opportunities for them in your network—showing your employees that their time was valued and that you’re still invested in them as people will help them feel more optimistic about the change. Following the news with three tangible ways you can support them in their transition will end the conversation on a positive note.
With proper planning and a little help from other leaders in the organization, laying off an employee can be something that makes your team stronger. In the emotional decision to layoff an employee, it’s easy to forget about all of the steps necessary to end the relationship smoothly. We put together an Employee Departure Checklist to support you in the process. Learn more about Career Transition Services.