Compassionate Layoffs

It is always difficult to let people go and it’s unfortunately something we find ourselves doing more frequently in 2020. Informing an employee or team member that your company has to end their employment is something no one relishes doing. There are ways, however, to make this painful and awkward moment a little easier on both the givers and the receivers of the news.

Provide a Compassionate Environment

Providing a compassionate environment means finding a place and time to deliver the news when you can be alone with the employee (whether virtual or in-person) and have time to talk to them and ensure they are in a safe place. This could be in your office, during a time when there are no other employees around or it could mean allowing an adequate time on a Zoom or other virtual meeting platform when you know you will not be interrupted and you can devote your full time and attention to the matter.

Go into the Discussion Fully Prepared

Before you start the meeting, make sure you have everything on hand that you will need to begin the offboarding of the employee in a smooth and gentle manner. This means be ready to discuss how your company is prepared to help them through the transition, with all the paperwork that you might need. If there is a severance package, be sure you have those details in writing and are prepared to share that with the departing employee. Make sure you also have information about how to transition their insurance and if or for how long your company will provide insurance coverage for them. Part of the preparation for any layoff should include downloading our RIF checklist. This will keep you on task and make sure you don’t miss any important details.

In the process of reducing your workforce?

Download our free “Reduction in Force Checklist” which walks you through the process step-by-step.

Be Sympathetic and Listen

State the businesses reason for needing to terminate their employment and thank them for the work they have done. Be sincere and authentic, taking your time to choose your words. Make sure that you’re also taking the time to pause and let them speak. Ask them what concerns they have and if there is anything that you can answer for them. Also, recognize that the shock of the situation may leave them with little to say or ask now, but a multitude of questions later. Make sure you leave the meeting with an understanding that they can contact you later if they have questions. You may even want to plan to check in on them in about 3-5 days via a phone call and see if there are any questions at that point. This gives them time to fully assess their situation and determine where they might need help.

Have Outplacement Services Ready

Outplacement services should be an essential part of a severance package that your company provides to your employees. Depending on what level of outplacement services your company has contracted for, you can offer your offboarding employee resume writing services, job coaching, and possibly training to help make them more attractive to a future employer.

Remember that from an employee’s perspective, hearing that they’ve been laid off can be one of the most difficult conversations they can have. When you keep this in mind and approach it from a place of compassion and support, you help make this a moment that they can retain their dignity and move forward remembering the positive experiences they had at your company.

In the process of reducing your workforce?

Download our free “Reduction in Force Checklist” which walks you through the process step-by-step.

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