Layoffs, whether instigated by new automations or the urgent need to cut costs, is always bad news for the employees being let go – but often also pretty miserable for those left behind. How can companies mitigate the unpleasantness as far as possible under the circumstances?
The headlines from the world’s biggest tech companies have come thick and fast of late. Twitter recently axed half of its workforce; Meta has reduced its global headcount by 11,000; around 6,000 HP staffers will reportedly lose their jobs over the next three years, with reports hot off the press that Salesforce will be losing up to 1,000 staffers in its belt-tightening. Outside of big tech, investment bankers across the world’s financial hubs are also bracing for the prospect of unemployment.
How to do layoffs right
Situations requiring businesses to lay people off don’t develop overnight, and there’s almost always enough time to deal with this inevitable change. From the high-profile layoffs above, we can learn how not to fire people and how to handle the aftermath. Consider the following:
- Clearly communicate your decision with your company
Don’t simply announce that layoffs are coming. It will create many questions among your managers and workers. Communicate your reasons for your decision as clearly and honestly as possible, acknowledging its weight and presenting its projected impacts.
- Provide adequate assistance to laid off employees
Implement a severance programme in compliance with relevant employment laws, even before the slightest whiff of layoffs hits your firm. It will help you avoid expensive class-action litigation and claims, while making sure that life is easier for those who are most affected by your decision.
- Support your HR teams
Your human resources people will be up against a surfeit of questions and petitions from employees heading for the chopping block, while processing sheer volumes of layoff-related paperwork. Introduce tools that can streamline their work, and be sure to provide an accessible pool of information that will help answer common questions.
- Help remaining employees cope
What’s left of your workforce may have to deal with the emotional and work-related impacts of losing their colleagues. Therefore, you should expect decreased morale in the layoff’s aftermath. It pays to sympathise with your remaining employees and avoid sugarcoating the event. Take advantage of company- or department-wide meetings to curb anxieties and rebuild your workers’ trust in your organisation.