how to handle lay offs

How to Handle Layoffs the Right Way

Upsetting as layoffs are, we’re hearing a lot of news of companies tackling layoffs in some of the worst ways. Often these types of botched layoffs are simply a result of the lack of careful planning and consideration it takes to execute a well-planned layoff. When companies skip the careful planning and important discussions leading up to layoffs, it’s usually a recipe for disaster. No matter the reason behind the decision, layoffs can instead be filled with empathy, clear communication, and done right if the company avoids these don’ts (and prioritizes these do’s):


  • Bury the news

    We all learned why you shouldn’t do this a while ago, but it bears repeating. Scary and upsetting as it might be to handle a layoff, you have to be upfront by holding in-person or virtual face-to-face meetings to deliver your devastating news. During this meeting, don’t sugar coat anything or try to sweeten the news with distractions. Instead explain the decision and include any factors that led up to the decision so employees get the full story. 
  • Offer terrible severance

    Though your layoff might be due to budget cuts, you can’t afford to add insult to injury by not offering worthwhile severance packages to employees. A bad financial situation on your company’s part does not constitute grounds for poor severance packages. You must do right by your employees. Be ready for employees to negotiate the terms of your severance package, too, which is within their ability and right.
  • Hire way too many people from the start

    Many layoffs can be avoided if you simply don’t over-hire full-time employees in the first place. If you have bouts of talent needs, you can always hire part-timers and freelancers to keep your lights on. FYI, we are always here to help you with your hiring needs
  • Complete multiple rounds of layoffs in one year

    Doing this causes irreparable, long-term damage to company culture. It also suggests you don’t think layoffs are a big deal. Plus, it might raise concerns around harmful behaviors your company unconsciously upholds, like favoritism and nepotism. As we’ll get to, layoffs should be your last resort, not a constant means to save your bottom line.


  • Be human! Communicate up-front and clearly

    So many awful layoffs are attributed to the perceived “heartlessness” on the company’s part. But more often it’s not heartlessness but the lack of communication that’s the real culprit. Individual managers who must complete layoffs need your support. It’s on your company to ensure they have that support by bringing in professional help or setting up coaching meetings with HR to help them know exactly what to say and do. Then, give people who have been laid off all the time and space they need to grieve and ask questions. Finally communicate with well thought-out PR announcements to the wider audience, communicating exactly what you’ve already told your employees. 
  • Show respect, appreciation, and recognition

    Being laid off can feel like all your hard work at the company was for nothing. It’s your job as an employer to correct that feeling by voicing your recognition for specific work that the individual did. This can be done within the same meeting of the lay-off, while communicating that the layoff is not due to their shortcomings. If possible, a person’s severance can include a reward or a bonus to compensate the employee for a job well-done on specific projects.
  • Offer the kind of help that lasts

    Severance pay and ongoing benefits (like COBRA healthcare) are standard. But you can offer even more in the realm of written recommendations for future employment, connect newly unemployed workers with top-tier colleagues in other companies, or even just check in after a month to ensure the employee is doing okay. HR teams and managers alike can stay in touch with employees through places like Linkedin, being ready to lend networking support and professional references as needed. 
  • Think of layoffs as a last resort

    Focus on retaining your employees in any way you can first. Try talking with your employee and seeing if there is a way to transfer them or negotiate different job responsibilities through clear communication. Whether they’ve been with you a long time or under a year, you’ll be showing them you value them enough to make it work. Managers should work closely with HR and the company to negotiate terms and help set the employee up for success in a different role, if possible. 

TLDR; while layoffs are some of the worst times that companies will go through, it’s 100% possible to lead with kindness and put people first. Prioritize clear communication, offer help, space, and time for people while also ensuring they are treated well now and through their extended severance period. 

And, should you find your company with a need for freelancers or part-timers, you know where to turn. 

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