The pandemic has forced many organizations and their HR heads to take an extreme step and resort to layoffs and downsizing to keep the organization afloat in this distressing time. Pandemic or not, layoffs have often been a touchy and sensitive topic in any workplace. It wreaks havoc on employee morale and harms productivity and efficiency levels in the department or organization. Layoffs today have tended to become a default response to business uncertainty, market collapse, or other affiliated factors. Informing someone that their time with the company has come to end is never pleasant and equally stress-inducing for everyone involved in the process.
In such an environment, the HR department has to ensure that the communication has been ample and effective, complete the formalities like compensation and benefits, process paperwork formalities, and ensure that the layoff is as smooth as possible. The process should be handled with skill and care, and here are some strategies for HR professionals to manage corporate downsizing and layoffs effectively-
- Communicate honestly
The entire situation since the buzz of a layoff is extremely upsetting and destroys the complete setup. Employees are anxious, less focused, and more likely to make mistakes in such a devastating scenario. To avoid this, it is important for HR managers to communicate openly and honestly with those involved in the process. Share the market data, company profits, and the state of affairs to keep them aware. While the idea is not to create any unnecessary panic, but at the same time present the facts minus the gloss.
- Remain objective
To handle layoffs and communicate the news, it is always better to be objective and sensitive to the person at the receiving end. Deliver the news in private and personal, not through others. Do not personalize the layoff and remain objective to avoid any ugly scenarios. Do not make it a personal grudge match under any circumstance and maintain the decorum of the process. It is easy to lose sight and turn defensive, which is why it is all the more important to remain objective throughout the process.
- Treat employees with respect
Under no circumstance should there be any disrespect towards the employee or their contribution to the job. Disrespect and insensitivity at this critical juncture can harm your organization’s reputation, have a negative impact on employee performance and spoil your online image on reputed sites like Glassdoor. Not only does it affect existing employees but also makes potential hires wary of the organization. Avoid any shocking confrontations, be polite, understand the difficult circumstances and offer support. Be kind and deliver the news with compassion, as layoffs also have a compounding effect on their family and future.
- Offer support
Layoffs more often than not are the last resort for companies. Make sincere efforts to help employees move forward and plan for their future career prospects. Help them in updating their resume, recommend them if you can, and mostly empathize with their situation. Look for redeployment options, if any, and offer a fair severance package to the employee. These efforts will reinforce employee trust and show that you value them irrespective of the circumstances.
- Assess future plans
Employees who manage to survive the layoffs will still have many unanswered questions and begin to have doubts about their future with the organization. Before they start jumping the ship, initiate a communication channel with them about the realignment, and address their queries. Employ strategies to re-engage employees and make them feel connected to the job by dismantling all their fears. The CEO and the management should take proactive measures in addressing the situation and controlling the damage to the bare minimum.
Post layoffs, there are other essential tasks that an HR manager has to undertake to ensure that the organization thrives in this highly competitive environment.
- Reallocating job responsibilities to another person within the organization or outsourcing the process.
- Retraining existing employees and investing in their skill development.
- Maintaining employee engagement and satisfaction levels through various activities.
- Undertaking retention and rehiring activities.
- Maintaining customer relationships in tandem with the communications department.
- Evaluating organizational processes and individual performances to avoid a similar situation in the future.
When leaders handle the downsizing process well, it reinforces their commitment to the existing staff and builds trust. Layoffs are difficult for any organization, but it is essential to manage the process well to maintain good faith in the market and to ensure that the laid-off employee does not become an ambassador of hate-mongering against the organization. Treat employees as an important asset even when going through a difficult time. It creates positivity and makes an organization successful in the long run.
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