Amid the Great Resignation, another phenomenon is happening: layoffs across the board.
Just this past week, online program manager 2U announced layoffs across the board amidst adopting a new tuition-share strategy. Fintech company Robinhood cut nearly a quarter of jobs, blaming the cryptocurrency crash and inflation. Walmart announced layoffs for corporate employees as they adjusted their profit forecast to be 8-9% lower than expected.
Needless to say, it’s an uncertain time to be an employer or an employee.
A time of uncertainty
Employees may be questioning job security and wondering if or when their company is going to begin to announce layoffs, begging the question, “Will I be safe?”
Employers may be monitoring the stock market and the impending recession, wondering “How can I keep my employees’ jobs secure?”
If your company is facing layoffs, there’s no easy way to navigate it – but that doesn’t mean you should go into it without a plan. Consider these four factors to help navigate layoffs during these uncertain times.
Begin talent planning
Depending on whether a layoff is to reduce your workforce or to accommodate a change in budget, prepare your organization for what happens after a layoff.
Ask questions like:
- Will departments be dissolved or merged?
- Who will be taking over day-to-day duties?
- Will a drop in workforce affect your budget or next quarter’s planning?
Be aware of the WARN Act
If your company has 100 workers or more, your organization is subjected to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and requires you to give a 60-day notice of mass layoffs. A mass layoff happens when:
- 50 employees or more are laid off within a 30-day period if the laid-off employees made up at least one-third of the workforce,
- 500 employees are laid off within a 30-day period, no matter how large the workforce, or
- an entire workforce is closed down and at least 50 employees are laid off within a 30-day period.
If an employer does not comply with the WARN Act, you may end up providing backpay and benefits to affected employees for up to 60 days.
Although the WARN Act is federal, some states have other laws passed regarding layoff notices. For example, Tennessee requires notice to be given for 50 workers or more instead of the federally-regulated 100.
The delivery of a layoff – both to employees who are leaving and the ones you retain – can make all the difference. HR can help coach managers to help avoid layoff blunders.
Managers should break the news with empathy and acknowledge the hardships a layoff comes with. Prepare managers by:
- Figure out a plan for when and how to let your workforce know about the layoffs
- Know the logistics, such as an employee’s last day and exit interview, before going into the meeting
- Prepare managers for any sort of reaction an employee may have and how to handle negative emotions that may come out
- Provide resources for the employee
Use layoffs to re-engage current employees
One often overlooked part of a layoff is keeping remaining employees motivated after a layoff. Remaining employees may be on edge, wondering if their job is next to be cut. This can be a time to re-engage with your workforce and help them adjust to the changes.
Some things you can do to help employees after a layoff are:
- Embrace organizational resilience: A resilient organization will be able to manage and maintain employee well-being through a big organizational change like a mass layoff
- Be upfront and honest: Don’t try to pretend that the layoff didn’t happen. Instead, acknowledge the elephant in the room and work through it with employees
- Practice team-building: Some employees may feel more alone or isolated, especially if co-workers they cared about had to be let go. Consider including some team-building activities to help keep employees engaged and feeling connected in the workplace