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Your step-by-step guide to managing layoffs in a compassionate and effective manner.

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manage your digital employer brand during a layoff

This blog post, part of a two-part series on managing your employer brand during layoffs, covers how to avoid generating negative press and social media coverage. Part two addresses what to do if and when negative coverage does arise.

When the news of a major layoff or reduction in force hits, it significantly affects your employer brand. Given the speed with which negative comments can spread and go viral, any layoffs must be handled with compassion.

When layoffs are unavoidable and the reasons are transparently communicated, people are more likely to understand why they are taking place. That’s why, as a business leader, it pays to be empathetic and find strategies to protect your brand during layoffs.

how to lay off employees without damaging your reputation

Companies faced with an economic slowdown are sometimes forced to right-size their businesses to stay afloat. For instance, several technology companies have recently made the news with their large-scale downsizing, with Meta and Amazon announcing a reduction in force of more than 10,000 each. Twitter has also been in the spotlight for laying off more than 7,500 workers through email.

While managers should not shy away from tough calls, can they handle redundancies without shattering their company’s brand?

authentic and honest communication

There is one main question that arises with every layoff: what is the reason for the redundancies? Whether due to low consumer spending, higher production costs or other factors, the reason should be communicated clearly. It is important to justify the reason for the reduction in force and the criteria used to determine the workers to be let go. Some of the mistakes to avoid when communicating during a layoff include:

  • Conducting layoffs through email: Twitter’s CEO was recently under fire for sending layoff emails to workers. When laying off workers, delivering the news face-to-face instead of sending generic emails is better. A one-on-one meeting shows compassion and allows you to answer any questions that arise.
  • Being impersonal and cold: Some of the bad experiences shared on social media during layoffs arise from managers being cold and impersonal. It is important to show workers compassion, respect and understanding during a reduction in force. Acknowledge the hard work of employees and show empathy.
  • Contradicting information: Many companies contradict themselves during layoffs. For instance, if your  explanation for the reduction in force is reduced sales, the company should not witness an increase in revenue in the same quarter.

provide support to displaced employees

Instead of offering severance packages only, consider empowering employees and helping them find another job as a reputation management strategy. If you offer expert coaching through an outplacement service, you assist the laid-off workers in securing their next move. Outplacement services provide expert support to employees by helping them review their options and decide on the best course of action.

Outplacement support makes a huge difference since it helps your employees move on to new ventures faster. For instance, an outplacement services provider can help with expert career coaching, resume building and job hunting. When the employees find jobs faster — and when they feel valued and supported by your company — they will be less likely to provide bad reviews.

using social media to get a job

As a manager, you cannot control employees' actions after a mass layoff, and it’s unrealistic to expect that they will not share their experiences or this life event online. In fact, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board ruled recently that employers can no longer withdraw part of a severance package if a dismissed employee publicly criticizes their former employer.

While in the past, employees would quietly search for jobs after a layoff, today social media is a powerful tool to help them land their next role. People are not shy about sharing their experiences following a layoff and using the event to find new opportunities

Your digital employer brand management opportunities lie in helping people understand how to best use these channels to improve their job prospects.

Social media is a great place to share experiences, network and job hunt, but it is also highly visible to prospective employers

Providing expert training on using social media  can help transitioning workers navigate the complexity of that visibility. It can also show them effective ways to use LinkedIn and Facebook posts to express interest in new positions. Expert coaching can give talent confidence and help get over the embarrassment of being laid off. 

reputation management and your digital employer brand

Layoffs are challenging, but the best way to protect your digital employer brand is to authentically put people and their experience first. Transparency, empathy and helpful employee guidance during layoffs can make a big impact in helping displaced workers to feel positively about your company, despite the challenging circumstances. This, in itself, is what will help prevent negative comments about your organization online. 

Part two of this article covers how to respond to negative press or social media coverage if it does arise.

01 March 2023

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