- Do your research first. Become an expert about the laws and rights of an employee who is being laid off. Learn and apply the laws concerning severance pay in the province that you are located. More importantly, be “fair and reasonable” for the time of service that the employee was with the organization.
- Plan to do the downsizing in person, if at all possible. This has been complicated during a time of a pandemic or distance between the person who is delivering the news. Conduct the meeting ideally on a Tuesday or Wednesday (the middle of the week), and when you think that less people may be present in the office. Schedule the meeting in a room that is more isolated from other employees or managers.
- Learn as much as you can about the employee who is being downsized.
- Seek out information if he has a partner/spouse, family or friend that he / she can contact after the employee has been delivered the news.
- Schedule a meeting on a day that is not on a birthday or religious holiday, or is too closed to a special or a significant day in the employee’s life.
- Prepare and communicate a very well planned out message to the employee. Let him or her know that this layoff decision is a business decision. Although he or she may want to ask a lot of questions, keep to your prepared message, assuring the employee that the decision is a business decision and that you and other HR professionals in the company, would like to help him/her as best as your company can, to navigate through this transition period as he/she looks for new employment
- After communicating the news about the downsizing to the employee, provide this employee with the opportunity to express his thoughts. Tell the employee that personnel in the HR department will do what they can to positively support him/her during this transition. Tell him / her that you empathize with him / her about this situation. Emphasize that you and your colleagues will do what they can, to support him/her though the lay off period.
- Offer him/her career transition or coaching support. Encourage the employee to utilize the services of an Outplacement Consultant that the company is offering him/her as this support will help him / her during this critical time in his/her life. If the company has an Employee Assistance Program, offer him or her, Employee Assistance Program’s services.
- Schedule a suitable day and time with the employee that he / she can pick up his personal possessions.
- Be prepared to offer the employee a taxi for the drive home. Even if he / she has a car, he / she should still be offered a taxi. He / she and a friend should be picked up the car, later.
- Offer a reference to employees if it is company’s policy to do so.
Terminations – Compassion and Consideration are required
Profitability is the object of all businesses, whether they are small or large businesses. It is a given that organizations want to increase revenues and decrease costs. After all, companies want to report higher profits for their investors and their shareholders. Therefore, it does not matter if we are in a pandemic or not, organizations must continuously take a head count and determine what people are required.
With that in mind, Human Resource and Senior decision makers often find themselves in the positions that they may need to downsize the number of employees in their companies. Often these decision makers must painstakingly consider what job functions can be reassigned to other employees and/or what employees need to be downsized.
When these decisions are made, family members of employees are directly or indirectly affected. For each person who is downsized, there is a multiple effect of 2, 3, 4 or perhaps even 5 or more family members who may be impacted by the decision to restructure one person from the organization. These other family members are often dependent upon the decision maker who has been restructured. The schooling, basic living requirements, and extra-curricular activities of all family members can be greatly impacted by the lay off, of one family member.
Now, let’s reflect on a recent lay off, of 900 employees from the company Better.com. Given the possibility that 3 or 4 family members on average may be impacted by the lay off for each family member, a large layoff can have a detrimental effect on so many people. Many will remember the way that the news was delivered by its senior leader. All people were called into a video meeting and abruptly told that they did not have a job anymore. There were reports that the CEO wanted to give only 1 week’s severance pay to each laid off employee. Media reports around the world reported about the cold manner that the Better.com layoff notice was delivered to its employees. Many employees complained about the lack of empathy and consideration that not only affected the laid off employee, but their families.
If there is anything I have learned in my 20+ years of career experience, in working with employees who have been downsized, is that consideration is a key element in ensuring that notice is delivered to downsized employees in a compassionate manner.
Like communicating any bad news to anyone in life, it is so important that the HR Professional show compassion and consideration when planning to downsize each employee.
There is never a great time to downsize. However, please try not to downsize anyone just before or immediately after a holiday, birthday or other special day in a person’s lives.
Many of us have been downsized in our own careers. We know how we felt when the news was delivered. Whether you have been laid off or not, it is so important to do a self-check when you are planning to downsize an individual. Continuously ask yourself throughout the whole layoff process, how you would feel if it were you, whom was being laid off. By taking in consideration how you would feel if you were being laid off, this will be a guide to ensure that you plan and downsize an employee with the same compassion and care that you would want for yourself.
A downsizing is often not easy for the employee who has been downsized. In most cases, the company HR professional who delivers the news, may be stressed and worried about providing the news to the laid off employee. However, if proper time, consideration, and compassion are taken into consideration in the planning, preparation, and delivery of the news of a layoff, the event can occur more smoothly. And it should always be remembered that compassion and consideration should be provided to any employee who has been downsized.
Support for Terminations
Our team at Newman HR provides a full range of support for terminations, including legal review, termination packages, on-site discussion support, and out-placement coaching and legal negotiations.