Navigating Layoffs: A Caring Message to Employees

January 21, 2022

As we navigate through uncertain times, it's important for us to plan for all possible scenarios. Unfortunately, that may include the possibility of layoffs.

As HR leaders, we have a responsibility to not only manage the logistics of a layoff, but also to approach it with compassion and care for our employees. It is also essential that we prioritize self-care and recognize the emotional impact of layoffs on everyone involved.

In a recent NewCampus HR Roundtable, Shefali Sharma highlighted the importance of managing a layoff.

“It’s essential to coach our leadership teams on how to handle difficult situations like mass layoffs and cost-cutting.”

With that in mind, here is a layoff planning checklist that takes a caring approach:

Plan ahead and communicate transparently

Before making any decisions, take the time to plan ahead and communicate transparently with your employees.

  • How might you be honest with everyone about the current situation and how it's impacting the company?
  • How might you acknowledge what impact it may have on your employees?
  • How might you share as much information as possible to help everyone understand the rationale behind the decision?

Consider alternatives to layoffs

Layoffs can be a last resort, so it's important to consider alternatives before making any final decisions. Consider all options before making a final decision.

  • How might employees be offered reduced hours or salaries?
  • Are there opportunities for voluntary severance or early retirement?
  • Which departments, functions, or roles will be affected?
  • Will the layoffs be temporary or permanent?
  • How many employees will be impacted?

Develop a fair and compassionate severance package

If layoffs are necessary, it's important to help employees transition smoothly.

  • How might you develop a severance package that is fair and compassionate?
  • How might you consider factors such as length of service, job level, and salary?
  • How might you provide information about benefits and unemployment compensation?

Provide emotional support to affected employees

Layoffs can be a difficult time for affected employees, so it's important to provide emotional support.

  • How might you consider providing resources for counseling services?
  • How might you provide job search assistance?
  • Is there an outplacement service to help ease the transition?

Plan for the future

As you plan for the future, keep in mind the long-term impact of the layoff on your company and your employees.

  • What are the impact it may have on company culture?
  • What are the effect for affected employees morale?
  • How might you develop an open communication and offer support for their next step?

Follow legal requirements

Layoffs can have legal implications, so it's important to follow all legal requirements.

  • What is the local laws and regulations related to layoffs?
  • How might you consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance?

While layoffs can be a difficult and emotional experience for both employers and employees, we have a responsibility to approach it with compassion and care. We understand that it is not simply a matter of defaulting to a routine procedure.

By planning ahead, considering alternatives, providing emotional support, and following legal requirements, we can help minimize the impact of layoffs and maintain positive relationships with our employees.

Let's work together to navigate these challenging times with empathy and care, by joining our SEA HR Community.

Download the layoff planning checklist pdf.