Back in normal times, managing layoffs is stressful enough. However, in a pandemic-stricken era, it can be an unfathomable experience for company representatives.
How would you engage and deliver the news to your people? Which one should you let go of, and who should you retain? How would you keep the morale of the remaining employees?
The haunting feelings of guilt and sadness are inevitable. The least you could do as a compassionate human being is to find ways to execute things sympathetically.
So, what can a manager or an employer do to handle layoffs in the most humane way?
Save As Much Jobs as You Can
Reflect if a job cut is truly necessary. Cutting costs may be a reasonable way to keep the business afloat. The temptation for business owners to control expenses is always there. However, this is a riddle where you have many factors to consider.
One of these is the opportunity to display your organization’s resilience and your ability to maneuver through these challenges. If the company survives while keeping the workforce intact, it speaks a lot about you as a leader and a human.
Meet the entire board and distinguish if you can make sacrifices in other areas. You may cancel tests on marketing and only keep the ones that generate income, try bill deferment, eliminate leased equipment, and tone down on expensive software use.
A merger is also a reasonable consideration. Termination of contracts should always be the last resort, and when it comes to that, find out how it wouldn’t happen again, despite the circumstances.
Wear a sensitive hat when speaking to the impacted people. Let them know that this business decision is not because of their doing. For managers who think they would get laid off, too, it’s not the time to talk about your termination and share your sentiments.
Treat people with respect and fairness and thank them for their time and hard work. Consider a closed-door meeting or a Zoom conference. Make eye contact during face-to-face and maintain a calm but empathic composure. If you prefer to talk to the employee via a phone call, stay focused and listen.
Offer Outplacement Services
Employers have the urge to give something to their parting employees. The usual send-off package comes in the form of cash or a token of appreciation. It’s okay to console them with gifts or lift their hopes for possible rehiring, but do not overpromise.
For redundancies pre-pandemic, top companies and even small businesses offer outplacement. Human resource experts see this as an investment more than an additional cost, and it solves more problems at once.
With the uncertainty of today’s time, your outgoing workforce would need this badly. Outplacement services will prepare and assist them in finding their next job. Packages may include career coaching, assistance with résumé writing, speeding up the job search, empowerment, and more.
Apart from being beneficial for employees, outplacement services can also save the name of your business. Your company will also maintain the remaining workforce’s motivation, knowing that you have their back until the very end.