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4 Ways to Create a Better Layoff Process

Letting go even one employee is disruptive, and the more employees that are impacted, the more disruptive – and more public – it can be. No matter how legitimate the decision is, layoffs can have far-reaching impacts for an organization and its workforce, including impacts on culture, employee satisfaction, and reputation.

They’re also more public than ever. There are regular posts from employees on social media and tracking websites detailing the grizzly nature of some less-than-ideal layoffs, leading to messy publicity and scrutiny, as the CEOs of Better.com and Hypersocial, dubbed the “Crying CEO” have learned.

An organization’s layoff approach can minimize these potential risks while easing the transition of those being separated from the organization along with those that remain.

Here are four essential strategies that companies and senior executives should follow to make layoffs smoother, avoid bad publicity, reduce internal tension, and set displaced employees up for success.

1. Learn from experience.

Layoffs should serve as a learning experience for organizations. If this isn’t your first layoff, reflect on the steps taken to manage the prior action. This reflection can help reshape the company’s strategies and approaches.

If this is the first time you’re facing this situation, do your research to learn from other’s missteps, but also those that have successfully navigated layoffs.

As a best practice, you should engage human resources and legal teams early, plus outplacement consultants, should you offer this support (which you should).

2. Offer outplacement support.

Providing outplacement services supports affected employees get back on their feet quickly. But it has many other benefits, too.

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Outplacement support reduces unemployment costs by reducing the time separated employees are without work, increases (remaining) employee morale, lowers the risks of negative responses from impacted employees, and improves the company’s reputation. In fact, 83% of Americans said offering outplacement services to laid-off employees would improve their opinion of the organization.

Outplacement services like resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and interview preparation help employers improve their value proposition by demonstrating genuine care for their employees’ future.

3. Take a personal approach.

When the time comes for the announcement, it should never be a cold, robotic process. Leadership should ensure the news is delivered in a compassionate and personal manner.

When possible, meet individually with each affected employee, exhibit empathy, and assure them that they are valued and respected. Taking a personal approach allows for more understanding and a better chance of preserving professional relationships.

For larger layoffs, delegate a post-announcement meeting to individual managers.

When laying off a remote workforce, consider giving some time before completely cutting off their access to allow them the opportunity to connect with valued colleagues before their departure.

4. Communicate effectively and transparently.

It’s imperative that those in charge of communicating the decision not make it about them. Learn from the “Crying CEO.”

Impacted employees don’t want to hear how hard the decision was on the leader. You need to get to the point quickly and explain the business reason for the layoff. Try to avoid cliché’ terms like “rightsizing,” “smartsizing,” or “workforce alignment.” If you over-hired or the business unit isn’t performing, just say so.

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Get to the point quickly and provide those being impacted with clear information about next steps, ensuring they receive concise, transparent information about what to expect and when to expect it.

With effective communication, outplacement support, a personal approach, and learning from experience, organizations can make the process less overwhelming for every party involved.

At Post Up Careers, we focus on helping displaced employees find their next dream job and navigate career transitions quickly and effectively. Learn more about our unique approach and expertise in delivering successful outplacement results.

Franklin Buchanan, the Founder of Post Up Careers, is a Certified Professional Career Coach and Certified Veteran Career Strategist through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. He is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and has been recognized as a “Top Voice” on LinkedIn in Outplacement and Resume Writing.


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