How To Manage Layoffs

Letting employees go can be an inevitable occurrence within a company and will never be an easy task for the manager or the employee. Understanding the optimal and appropriate way to layoff these employees can make or break the process. Employees who are laid off will need reasons, transitional support, and empathetic managers during this emotional and rough time. Remaining employees need reassurance in order to help them stay productive, feel safe in their role, and stay committed to their company. What can you do to ease the process of layoffs?

Read further for ways to effectively manage layoffs:

1: Be Direct & Plan Ahead

Management might think that employees shouldn’t know when the company is performing poorly. On the contrary, your employees are what help drive company success, so they deserve to  understand the big picture. Keep employees in-the-know on the company’s position and  create an open line of communication. Be direct with your employees that a layoff is coming but be careful not to  inform them too early in the event you can turn things around without layoffs. With that being said – be sure to plan ahead and carefully decide who knows who, what, and when. Document and take note on exactly what you’ll discuss and how you’ll deliver information so everyone receives the same accurate information in a timely manner. Planning ahead can make the difference between a composed event and utter confusion and chaos.


2: Depersonalize The Decision & Show Empathy

Employees will  take a layoff very personally. They have families and may have outside situations that can be dramatically effected and being laid off can be life-altering to the employee. It is imperative that managers be extremely considerate during this emotional and sensitive process by showing empathy. Most employees are loyal to their managers, so hearing the news via email, letter, or from an unfamiliar colleague in Human Resources can make the process far more difficult. Managers need an appropriate amount of time to deliver the news in a one-on-one conversation. They should remember to depersonalize the decision and reassure the employee that it is strictly an unfortunate business decision and not one based on the employee’s direct performance.


3: Offer Support & Physical Materials

While the layoff process can be painful and hard, there are a few ways to alleviate the process. An employee might ask you, “What do I do now?” Outplacement can be an effective and crucial step in helping this employee get back on track and shows that while you had to layoff the employee you are there to support them during a high-stress and emotional time. If it is possible, before you deliver the news, prepare a takeaway packet for the employee containing last paycheck details, 401k and  COBRA information. Taking care of the employees being laid off can help boost morale of the remaining staff on the team.


4: Reassure Remaining Employees

The employees who remain can feel insecure in their roles and worry that they might be next. After downsizing, be sure to reassure employees of their importance and that their roles are instrumental to the business. Consider implementing cross-training or various skill-training programs. Be open about the state of the company and if there could be further layoffs in the near future. Address each level of concern so that employees can work at ease and return to their normal routines.


Layoff periods can be an emotional and scary time for all employees and can be detrimental to company morale and productivity. Keep employees in the loop, remain open, honest, and empathetic. Laying off employees will never be an easy task, but following these steps can help alleviate the difficult time. Showing your support for employees through difficult times will benefit employee engagement and boost morale so you and your employees can work towards a better day.