Handling layoffs: A challenge for managers

In a recent incident, a factory replaces its workforce with latest machines. Few employees were laid off as the factory doesn’t need them anymore and their portion of work can easily be done with the help of latest machines.

In some other case the company reduces its workforce to cut down the cost to manage other overheads. Half of its employees are laid off and the remaining ones are going through a stressful phase as there’s lot of extra work and also they need reassurance for their future.

All companies whether successful or start-ups at some time or the other have some form of layoffs. It not only affects those who are being asked to leave but also those who remain.

Asking an employee to leave is a stressful task and a challenge for the managers.

Following some guidelines will help managers to handle this process with dignity and respect for both the employee who is leaving and for those who remain.

Communication is the key. Make sure your staffs know what the organization is facing and where it stands today. Employers often think they shouldn’t let their employees know if the things are going poorly. To avoid discouragement among the employees, organization often hides or manipulates the circumstances. Discussing company’s problem with your staff will keep them involved in solving the problem.

Take out time. Give time to your workers. Make yourself available to listen to them and solve their queries as much as you can. During difficult times employees get anxious if they do not see their management around.

Do it yourself. Employees are closer and loyal to their managers. Do this painful task yourself. Don’t delegate this to the other manager or staff. Companies should give managers the desired time to have one on one conversation with employees that are being let go.

Do it in private. Though the whole unit can see the outcomes still deliver the message in private and with respect. Employees need time to react. People have different reactions. Some need to think, some may grieve and some need the facts and explanations. Be answerable to all of them; give them enough time to come out of this and be prepared to help them reach their emotional stability.

Extend your support. Treat the leaving employees with care and concern. Support them with the challenges to find a new job. Do not distance yourself from those who are leaving. Offer your support in job search.

Show your gratitude. Thank your employees for everything they have done for the organization. Lighten up the stressful environment by organizing a friendly lunch. Update your employees with future decisions.

Practice what you preach. Nothing disturbs your staff more than seeing you doing just the opposite like wasting money in expensive lunches, going out for wasteful business trips after mass layoffs. This can hamper the trust your employees have in you. In this cost cutting time managers are also expected to share the loss.

Asking people to leave is not easy.Many organizations are still learning the ropes on how to do it more effectively and with sensitivity.

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