Navigating Employee Layoffs

Navigating Employee Layoffs

Congratulations! You and your business made it through the hectic end-of-year season.

Especially given the pressures facing today’s businesses—managing everything from rising inflation to record turnover to meeting new employee expectations—the end of 2022 likely couldn’t have come sooner. And while employers everywhere may be starting off this year with a renewed energy and optimism, for many, this season also brings with it an unfortunate reality: layoffs.

The holiday hustle means high-volume hiring ramps up quickly across many industries. And as the crowds die down, so too does the demand—meaning employers need to ramp down just as quickly come the new year. While layoffs are an inevitable part of business among industries where temporary and seasonal work is common, business leaders, managers and employees alike often view them with anxiety, confusion and a lot of stress.

If employers shift their mindset around layoffs, however, they may be able to transform the entire experience—for the organization and the workforce—in ways that could benefit both for years to come. Thinking of layoffs as an opportunity to showcase who you are as an employer—and executing on that plan—can make the difference not just as you let people go, but for the long-term. After all, in this candidates’ market, brand reputation is king, and you don’t want a poorly handled layoff to lead to negative online reviews of your organization’s quality of employment. If a layoff is managed smartly and strategically, those poor reviews could each instead be an opportunity for former workers to tout the organization to an entire prospective pipeline of candidates (and for the workers themselves to become return employees in the future!).

Here are a few ways to put that goal into action:

Lead with empathy:

In this age of digital connection, it can be tempting to part ways with employees through email or even Zoom; however, as we’ve seen with some big-name employers that have tried this tactic, that can spell a PR nightmare for the company. Instead, make the effort to create a tactful, positive experience that recognizes the humanity involved—that the workers being let go are much more than just names on a page.


Don’t skimp on the details:

Some employers may lose sight of that need for empathy when laying off workers who joined the organization on a temporary basis—thinking that they should be prepared for the end of the work relationship anyway. However, if workers aren’t properly informed throughout the process—of when their end date could be, how discontinuation of benefits will happen, resources available—it can sour the experience. Be transparent, honest and generous with details leading up to and during the layoff process.


Work to meet employees’ needs:

Employers that want to go the extra step to have a responsible layoff strategy may want to consider the unique needs of the employee population they’re letting go. If these are workers for whom this position was a way to earn extra income, consider offering financial wellness tips or even connections to a training program on financial health. Similarly, if workers were using this opportunity as a career stepping stone, resume writing help, networking events or the opportunity to use business leaders as referrals can leave a positive impression.

Looking for more information on preparing your organization, and your workforce, for layoffs? Click here to receive our step-by-step ramp-down guide to help you scale down effectively without losing the focus on your people.

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