Layoffs are stressful for everyone involved. However, how you lay someone off can be the difference between calm and chaos. No one wants to get laid off, but how you deliver the bad news can at least make a person feel like they were appreciated and worthy while they worked for you. Learning what to say and how to say it, can make laying someone less painful for everyone involved.
Always Make It One On One Conversation
The absolute worst thing you can do when laying off an employee is by gathering a bunch of people in a group, and then telling them that they no longer have a job. Doing so well show those former employees that you never cared about them at all, and that they were nothing more to you than a body performing an assigned duty. When you lay someone off in a group, it shows that your company has no sincerity, no tact, and no value for its employees. Word of mouth of how your company laid off its employees without showing a bit of compassion, and soon business will begin to slow. Society generally does not care for companies who treat their employees (and their customers) like second-class citizens.
Sometimes layoffs are unavoidable. When this is the case, it is always best practice to speak to each employee one by one. Even if this means that you have to be away from your desk for several hours, so be it. If you cannot afford to be away from your desk for too long, enlist the assistance of other managers or people of authority who have been properly trained to deal with laying someone off. Do not waste too much time before explaining to them why you’re speaking to them. The longer you beat around the bush, the more anxious they will become. Choose your words carefully, and prepare yourself for several different reactions.
Give Them a Detailed Explanation for Why They’re Getting Laid Off
When you have to lay someone off, give him or her a detailed explanation for why they’re being laid off. Don’t simply tell them something like, “You’re job has been cancelled due to budget cuts.” It makes them feel like they weren’t as valuable as other employees. Instead, explain to them what the reasoning was for laying them off. You should also make sure that you ensure them how well of a worker they were, and that they layoff of is not a measure of how well they performed their job. If other people have been laid off, it is worth mentioning. You do not have to tell who the other people are, but it will make your former employee feel better knowing that they weren’t the only person to get laid off.
After you have explained why they are being laid off, and why you believe that they are still a great worker, you should notify them that you are keeping their application on file in case positions open up again. Some people may appreciate this others may never want to work for you again. Be patient and understanding. Be prepared for lots of questions. Let candidates know that you can’t share information about other employees (former or otherwise) if they ask. You may also want to consider having a box of tissues with you, as well as a cell phone in case you need to call security. Even if you believe that your company may never have to lay anyone off, it’s always best to prepare yourself for the worse.