High-profile layoffs at Meta and Twitter and planned cuts at Disney have heightened concerns among managers and senior executives at employers nationwide who are struggling to lead a team through a series of downsizings.
How a company handles a layoff can have a major impact on its future success. Poorly managed, downsizing can damage a company’s reputation.
“You don’t want those you just fired now going to splat Glassdoor or whatever about how awful you are,” said Eric McNulty, associate director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.
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Former employees could become future customers, partners or colleagues.
“You may actually want those people to come back or fire people to you later when you hire again,” McNulty said. “So you want this alumni network to be in good shape.”
Be direct and transparent
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When announcing layoffs, business leaders need to be both upfront and transparent about the reason for job cuts and their impact is an essential first step, experts say.
“Be clear, be careful and be compassionate,” said McNulty, co-author of “You’re It: Crisis, Change and How to Lead When It Matters Most.”
“Make sure people understand why you’re doing this,” he added. “Give them the business case and not the usual companies that talk about ‘market conditions’.”
Executives should also explain “what other options they have considered, how they hope not to have to make the decision again, and how they are treating affected employees,” said Paul Wolfe, human resources adviser and board member at administration of PayScale.
Communicate with empathy
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Messages about layoffs should come from individual leaders who are “front and center,” not “HR” or “leadership,” said Jennifer Benz, senior vice president of benefits communications firm Segal Benz. .
Leaders must “show empathy” and be careful not to focus on their own feelings “rather than being sympathetic to the situation they have created for their staff”, she said.
Wolfe said one-on-one conversations are better than group meetings for discussing layoffs with your team, and planning communications logistics is also important.
“Make sure that system access and directory deletion doesn’t happen until employees are notified,” Wolfe said. “I respect companies that protect their resources, but the way they treat affected employees is very telling for the employees who still work there.”
“These employees were not criminals and should not be treated as such,” he said.
State the details
Don’t make employees who have been laid off do the job when it comes to understanding severance, job placement or career and development support, health coverage, and other benefits information , the experts said. Explain everything – and be prepared to answer questions.
Laid-off workers can ask for more information or ask for other benefits, and managers should have the answers. Alexandra Carter, a professor at Columbia Law School, recommended that companies be prepared if employees ask to provide an official letter or email from the human resources department stating that a departing employee was terminated – and not terminated. for cause or performance.
Consider concerns of remaining workers
Companies should also “recognize that this is a very difficult time for people who remain in the organization,” Benz said. “Make sure managers and leaders are available to remaining employees and can be clear about the future without over-promising.”
“Strengthen support resources, including mental health benefits,” she added.
Inform remaining workers of changes that may need to be made in light of job cuts.
“Talk about what we’re going to stop doing now that we’ve cut a lot of this organization until we figure out how we can work as efficiently as possible,” McNulty said.
Benz said business leaders should be clear about the future and ensure that all promises are realistic and will be followed by action.
What should leaders not say? “We should never say we can do more with less,” McNulty said. “If you could do more with less, you should have done it before.”
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