No company wants to undergo a period of layoffs, but sometimes it’s the only solution to keep the business thriving in a changing business landscape. The reality is that leadership has a responsibility to ensure the company’s survival, even if that means having to release good employees to do so. Dealing with a layoff is difficult for both employer and employee, but there are ways to soften the blow and make things more bearable for both parties. Here are some tactics on which HR managers should focus when faced with notifying employees to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved:


This may seem like common sense, but it may surprise you just how many companies fail when it comes to communicating with their employees about such a delicate topic. Sending out an email or briefly telling them to pack their things and leave will only result in confusion and anger by those affected—a scenario that could have negative consequences for the company.

Especially if layoffs are happening over an extended period, it is best to maintain communication throughout the entire process. Employees may experience anxiety about their roles and the potential for a layoff, and this may affect their productivity or even retention.

Be open with all of your employees, to the best extent that you can, regarding future plans. Discuss the facts and help them understand why the company was forced to make difficult decisions. Listen to their feedback and try to answer the questions they’ll inevitably have following the news to a reasonable extent. Include important details such as the date of their last day, any sort of allotted severance and how it will be paid, how unused vacation days will be compensated, the kind of outplacement services provided and relevant information on health insurance. Make sure they fully understand all of the details surrounding their situation.


This is another area where many companies struggle. It’s tempting to take a hands-off approach to layoffs since it’s such a sensitive subject, but that only makes matters worse. HR managers should keep in mind that a layoff can dramatically change a person’s life, and that the event can be highly emotional. Great HR managers showcase both empathy and compassion when letting an employee go—without commiserating.

Face-to-face meetings that give employees the chance to ask questions—and give you the chance to communicate all of the necessary information as mentioned above. And by properly communicating how employees can take advantage of severance, extended health care benefits, and outplacement, you are able to make sure that your transitioning employees are taken care of.

Moreover, you have the opportunity to extend your compassion to staying employees. By offering resiliency training to everyone in your organization, you give them the chance to sort through difficult emotions. Bitter employees—both staying and leaving—are more inclined to speak ill of the company than they would be had they been treated with compassion during their departure.

Ease the transition

One of the first things to go through the mind of an employee who has just been laid off is, “How will I continue to support myself and my family?” Letting them go without any guidance on how to find a new job can make the departure even more stressful for the employee and significantly impact the future of their career—especially since many employees may not have had to look for a new job in a long time and don’t know how to network or update their resumes.

By providing outplacement services, you soften the blow of the layoff, which can serve the dual purpose of taking care of your employees and protecting your employer brand. Employees who feel taken care of are more likely to think fondly of your company and even become a brand ambassador, or even a future client or rehire. Providing these services can also ensure that your remaining employees will be able to work without the anxiety and fear for their own jobs, because they’ll know that even if the situation changes, they will have support for finding a new job during their own transitions.

A period of layoffs is hard for everyone involved, not just the employees whom it directly impacts. Luckily, the pain of the situation can be mitigated by openly communicating with the employees, showing them compassion throughout the process and helping ease their transition into a new job.

To learn more about manager notification training, resiliency training, and other notification day support, check out RiseSmart’s SmartSessions Workshops here.

02 December 2015

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