Five Important Steps to Considering When Laying off Employees
Who will be involved in breaking the news? How will the layoff be conducted? What are some supports and resources that will be offered to the worker being laid off?
It is important to consult experts at this stage to better prepare for how the layoff will transpire. Talking with a lawyer who specializes in employment and labour laws could help prevent negative consequences in the aftermath of the layoff. Ensuring that the HR department or an HR representative is fully involved in the process can also mitigate some concerns.
At this point, you may want to prepare paperwork such as the employment termination letter, a final paycheck, a severance agreement, or a list of resources that employees who are laid off can consult for next steps.
However, before starting to break the bad news to employees, you might want to discuss the health of your business first. This is to increase transparency, so everyone in the workplace is aware of the current situation and can understand the circumstances behind any potential layoffs.
Practicing how to lay off an employee can help prepare your approach to the situation. Proper training from HR professionals can be the difference between a poorly executed layoff—which may result in a ripple of negative consequences—or a well executed layoff that leaves the former employee confident in their next steps. The right training can ensure you have an effective script to follow, and give you tips on more subtle things to pay attention to, such as body language.
Now that you have a better idea of what the layoffs will look like, it’s time to plan out the logistics. This can be as simple as remembering to bring a box of tissues in the room where you will break the news.
It is best to pick a private, neutral meeting room, which can be less intimidating for workers than going to their boss’ office. Make sure to give the employee direct access to the door in case they wish to leave.
Try to choose a time of day that will be nondisruptive and mindful of the employee. Choosing a Friday would be ideal since it gives the employee the weekend to process and come up with some next steps.
When conducting layoffs of multiple employees, you might consider making a general announcement rather than bringing each person to a private room for a meeting. This allows employees who have been laid off feel less alone and unfolds a network of support and solidarity.
Now is also the time to review any documents needed for the employment termination. It is best to have these documents examined by a lawyer or HR professional.
- Step 4: Delivering the News
When talking to your employee, remember to be honest and direct. Start off by saying that you have bad news instead of making small talk. During these discussions, things might get heated or emotional. You must remember not to engage in an emotional debate if it occurs—instead, ask to set up an appointment for a later time when emotions are not as high.
Another option is to offer a break from the heavy conversation, such as by offering a phone call to the employee in case they need to call someone for support. You can also let them have a moment to themselves to process things.
To soften the impact of a layoff, you can offer former employees resources to give them an idea of what to do next. Job search support services like resume writing, career coaching, and financial planning can go a long way in helping others get back on their feet. Retraining, education, and business grants can also help laid-off employees find success and confidence again.
Other things you can offer to ease the transition include a good reference and someone to talk to, such as an HR representative or a counsellor. By ensuring your former employees are given adequate support after breaking the news, you can minimize the harmful psychological consequences to getting laid off.