Every day employers are forced to lay-off well performing dedicated employees simply because their budget can no longer support them. Laying off an employee can be a much more difficult situation than hiring or firing, because the employer is often left with no choice and does not actually want to let the employee go. How do you tell a valued employee that their position is being eliminated?
As a manager or supervisor, you need to be the one who delivers the message. It is not fair for an employee to catch wind of the situation from workplace rumors or be left in the dark surrounding a situation that involves them. Although you may be experiencing a tremendous amount of guilt or remorse, making sure that you treat the employee as compassionately as possible will help make this situation a bit easier (for both you and the employee).
Here are some additional tips to ease the situation and keep the meeting on track and focused:
- Prepare: Select a meeting time and private place in advance. Know the message you are delivering, including date of lay-off and employee responsibilities leading up to that date.
- If you do not feel prepared, contact your HR Advisor for consultation and preparation. A second opinion only takes a few minutes, and may save you some heartache and frustration.
- When sitting down with the employee, get right to the point. An employee may or may not know they are being laid off, but there is no reason to lengthen the bad news.
- Recognize all of the employee’s hard work and contributions to the company. Let them know they are a valued employee.
- Explain the reason that your company needs to lay-off employee(s).
- Listen carefully to the employee’s reaction/response. Be empathetic and kind – but do not act defensive or apologetic – the meeting must remain professional and to the point.
- DO NOT give the employee false hope of future opportunities. Even if there is a chance of re-hiring in the future, do not address this situation unless an opportunity can immediately be acted upon or the employee can apply for another position/location.
- DO NOT mention other employees being laid-off if there are others that you need to meet with or have already met with.
- Give the employee their lay-off letter (tune in next week for employee lay-off templates).
- Let the employee know that both you and HR are available to make this transition as painless as possible.
After the lay-off or lay-offs are completed, it is management’s responsibility to clarify with other employees what has happened and why. Restate the need for change and encourage open communication so that no remaining employees feel anxious on the job.