As an employer, you are likely tasked with hiring people, but that also means you might have to oversee layoffs. No matter your job type, from manual labor to sitting at a desk, layoffs are inevitable. It may not happen while you’re at the company, but at some point, the business will have to let go of some employees. This is typically due to cutting costs or organizational changes, such as hiring a management company.
How can you lay an employee off in the most gentle way possible? The infographic below outlines nine ways people can bounce back after a layoff. However, you can use this advice to form what you say during one of those unpleasant situations.
For example, Turbo advises those who were recently let go to keep a positive outlook. You, the employer, can start this positivity by reinforcing the employee’s strengths, contributions, and accomplishments. Emphasize the reality of the circumstance — it’s a tough situation for both parties and not any one person’s fault. Make sure you don’t begin the conversation with small talk about the weather or sports — it won’t help soften the blow and it’s prolonging the inevitable.
Be sure to share the details in writing. When an employee learns they’re being laid off, they’ll likely have questions — as they should. Be transparent about when their last day will be, when their last paycheck will arrive, and when they’ll stop receiving benefits. They’ll also need a termination letter to take to the unemployment office.
Next, take full responsibility. Communicate that this was a financial decision only, and it had nothing to do with individual performance. Yes, it’s the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” line — but it’s the truth, and should help make the severance less personal.
Make sure that you’re kind, yet firm — leave no door open for negotiation. Consider saying something like “We do not have another position open for you. This has been a very hard process, but I can assure you it has been reviewed by the highest levels within the company, and the decision is final.” This will spare you from having to discuss if an exception can be made.
Make sure to be generous with your severance package. Your reputation and integrity as a company are at stake. At least consider the standard of one month’s pay for each year of service. If you can’t even afford to do the right thing, perhaps you can’t afford to be in business.
Set your laid-off employees up for future success by offering resources. Set them up with connections from your professional network. Offer to leave a recommendation message on their Linkedin profile. If for some reason your company has a policy against this, it’s time to ditch that policy. Your employees put in hard work at your company. The least you can do is set them up for success elsewhere instead of turning your back on them as soon as they walk out the door.
Finally, ask if the employer has any questions. They’ll likely take over the conversation at this point, and it’s important to listen and answer their questions honestly. Be prepared for their comments, which could range from professional to emotional. Just be sure to stay away from cliches, unsolicited advice, or discussing why this particular employee was laid off as opposed to any other employee.
If you want to be remembered as a genuinely caring and helpful employer, start the process of recovering from a layoff early. You never know, the kind words, support, and understanding on your part could be the motivation someone needs to quickly find a new job.
About the author: Karlie Kramer writes on behalf of Turbo with an interest in workplace culture. Specifically, she writes on how people can excel in their careers through maximizing productivity and having a positive mindset.