After the hiring boom following the global pandemic, we are seeing many corporations, especially those in the IT sector, freezing hiring or announcing layoffs. More than 110,000 tech workers have lost their jobs since the start of 2023. Silicon Valley companies have been hit by the economic slowdown and have realized they can no longer support people (many post-pandemic employees ). Practically there is a surplus of employees that no longer corresponds to the current demand.
Whether you work in a company with 500+ employees or a start-up, layoffs are never easy. The challenge now is how to provide support to laid-off people, an initiative that will help you retain your talented colleagues and maintain your employer brand.
At the end of 2022, more than half (57%) of executives said they planned to lay off people in 2023, according to the Mercer Executive Outlook survey. Most businesses are downsizing to strengthen their organization’s resilience, accelerate transformation, and support growth. Nearly two-thirds (59%) of CEOs and CFOs predicted increased demand for staff in 2023. At the same time, half planned to increase their hiring budgets.
WHAT IMPACT THE layoffs HAVE ON THE COMPANY
When you make layoffs, public perception of the company can be affected, and employees can become disappointed. This can lead to lower morale, productivity, and loyalty among colleagues. And they won’t shy away from expressing their opinions online. In addition, customer confidence in a company that has gone through layoffs will also decrease. These are just a few reasons why you need to be aware of how actions during layoffs or economic crises will affect the company.
Here’s what approach you should take as a leader to handle the situation constructively:
Before making layoffs, consider the unintended consequences of layoffs. These may include the loss of knowledge and skills needed in business; higher risk of employee burnout after layoffs; unintentional bias and legal consequences. What are the most likely to happen to your business? Plan ways to mitigate these risks before taking action or communicating the information internally.
MAKE SURE THE NEW REALITY ALIGNS WITH BRAND COMMITMENTS AND VALUES
Assess the impact of the restructuring on any public engagement you’ve made and make sure it’s consistent with your brand values. Be aware of how the changes could affect recruitment, retention, and company image.
Leaders must be empathetic to those who are laid off and those who continue to work for the company. The laid-off people are likely to go through various states such as anxiety, guilt, and sadness. Your current employees can be hunted by competition and they may feel it’s safer to make a change. Set up discussions with people (both those who will be leaving and those who are staying) and also offer them access to therapy sessions to manage their emotions during the transition.
Transparency is imperative during a reorganization. The first thing you need to do when informing your employees about layoffs is to explain to them why you have selected them. You should also explain who will be affected by this process. Another aspect to consider is the communication and support provided to affected employees. By providing information about the compensation package, you’ll show that you care about people’s well-being. It’s also important to communicate how the company will manage workload and responsibilities after layoffs.
Be prepared to have more 1:1 meetings with people. Allow employees to feel heard. Communicate openly and honestly.
OFFER OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES TO HELP THEM FIND NEW ROLES
You can use an external outplacement service provided by BIA HCS. BIA consultants provide practical support to those employees who are about to leave an organization, through career transition programs. We will help them move to the next stage in their career, we will guide them to choose the optimal career path, and support them in fitting into the new professional climate.
We want to offer your colleagues a career transition as easy as possible, while also maintaining a good image of the company.
The steps we take to ensure an effective career transition program include:
- Meetings with employees involved in this program to establish their goals, priorities, and professional aspirations;
- Providing employee counseling to identify new professional opportunities and to prepare for personal marketing strategy;
- Support for selecting target companies where job applications are to be sent;
- Advice on accessing new professional opportunities that are less visible on the labor market;
- Assistance for integration into the new organization.
MODERATE COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Disappointed employees will not hesitate to present their experiences online. Whether it’s posting negative reviews on websites or on their own social media accounts, one or two employees can quickly reach thousands of potential candidates and clients.
Plan how to respond to negative comments. Ignoring comments will be harmful in the long run.
REDUCE THE NEED FOR LAYOFFS
Make sure you have strategic workforce planning to better align future needs with current supply. Identify the skills needed in the company so you can invest time and resources in solving skills gaps, rather than cutting staff. Consider upskilling to support employees as they adapt to changing roles. That way you’ll be able to think about how current talent can meet future demand.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT MANAGING THE SITUATION IN THE CASE OF LAYOFFS?
When the focus is on the numbers and saving the business, you may not pay attention to how you communicate with people. Employees may feel disappointed for laying them off instead of offering them other positions. Also, current colleagues will fear losing their jobs, and they could search for new jobs. Here are some behaviors that can happen or be observed if a layoff is not handled properly:
Rumors: Some employees will spread rumors about the company, layoffs, and their coworkers. The HR person can easily fall into the trap of thinking that everything is fine just because no one is speaking publicly.
Decreased productivity: Employees can also become demotivated following a layoff, leading to decreased productivity and a decrease in overall performance, which can be measured through performance appraisals.
Increased absenteeism: Employees may become stressed or anxious following a layoff in the company, leading to increased absenteeism. You can also check if the number of sick leave is increasing, which may indicate that people are suffering from burnout, depression, or other stress-related illnesses.
Low morale: Layoffs can lead to low morale among your current employees, who may feel insecure about their job security. Talk to people and build a relationship of trust with them.
THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION IN PROTECTING THE EMPLOYER BRAND
Communication plays a key role in sustaining available people and protecting the employer brand. As a leader, it’s essential to communicate the right message to employees and stakeholders to maintain and build trust.
Clear and effective communication can help employees understand the reasons behind layoffs and also help ensure their concerns are addressed. By providing necessary resources like outplacement services and answering questions, you show that you care about their well-being.