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Key Ways to Best Handle Large-Scale Staff Layoffs

By: Ryan Kidman


A man office worker is unhappy with being fired from a company packing things into cardboard boxes. The young man was stressed and disappointed by being fired. concept of layoffs and unemployment.

The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for many businesses due to the global pandemic, political uncertainty, civil unrest, natural disasters, financial stress, and more.

As a result, many organizations are going through tough times and have to lay off multiple, or sometimes even dozens or hundreds of workers to survive.

If you’re managing a firm in this boat or heading up human resources, or otherwise involved in this process, you’ll know that it’s a tricky thing to go through. It’s vital to go about layoffs, especially large-scale ones, in the best way possible to minimize fallback on the company and help those you have to say goodbye to.

Take Care How You Break the News

The news that employees will get laid off is something no one wants to hear and is often shocking. As such, take care to break the news as gently as possible. This involves not only being kind and compassionate but also honest and transparent. It helps workers if you don’t keep all the reasons behind the changes hush-hush, unless you have must-abide-by rules from your head office.

Keep in mind that many people feel, generally incorrectly, that they must have done something really wrong to warrant being laid off, even though it may be much more about a cash flow or other business situation than them personally. If you can give people more information about what’s going on, you will help them understand the circumstances and leave them feeling less shocked, hurt, and angry.

Even if you have to lay off hundreds of staff members, remember that each is someone with real feelings, dreams, and worries, not to mention company history. Try to talk to each laid-off employee about their specific contributions to the business and how they’ll be missed.

Allow People to Vent

Since many people will be in total shock when they find out they’re without a job, it’s wise to be as much a listener as you are a talker when you give people the news. Allow them to talk and vent if they want to, as dealing with the information can stir up all sorts of extreme and often negative emotions.

Don’t rush people out of your office right away because you have other workers to inform about their laid-off status, either. Instead, give people time to sit and process the news for a bit. Be a shoulder to cry on if they need it, and allow laid-off employees to compose themselves before they have to leave your office and get peppered with questions or pitying looks from colleagues.

Enable people to ask as many questions as they need to, and if you can’t answer all their queries, give them an idea of when you can get back to them with more information. Also, avoid bringing in security or making fired workers pack their belongings and exit in a rush. The more dignity you can give people and time to take everything in, the better.

Utilize Outplacement Services

Another way to handle staff layoffs well is to help laid-off team members get their resumes and other job applications in order and otherwise move forward. Outplacement services can be an excellent investment since they assist people in updating job application documents, finding suitable openings, connecting with potential employers, and practicing answering interview questions, among other things. Giving people access to outplacement will also make it more likely that they talk favorably about your firm in the future.

Support Your Remaining Staff

While your focus during a layoff process will be on the people you have to say goodbye to, try to support your remaining staff members, too. They’ll not only be stressed by worrying about whether they’re going to be let go too, but also sad to see colleagues exited from the company. They may find it hard to concentrate and get motivated with all the change happening.

To help people with this unsettling process, look for ways to boost morale. You might utilize your contract lifecycle management tool to see if employee contracts can be updated more favorably, for instance, or promote employees where possible.

Plus, give workers access to free or discounted therapy sessions and let them know your door is open if they want to talk about the future of the business and their role in it. You might also arrange team-building activities to get everyone together after the stressful period.

No one likes to have to lay off a single employee, let alone many staff members at once. But you can make the process go more smoothly if you follow the tips above and manage the situation as strategically and compassionately as possible.

Published: December 18, 2022

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Ryan Kidman

Ryan Kidman is a startup-investor and serial entrepreneur. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about blogging and covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb

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