How to Lay Off Employees

Last year I had to learn how to lay off employees. I learned the way many of us learn these things. By doing it. how to lay off employeesIt wasn’t fun. It wasn’t exciting. But it got accomplished. Here’s what I learned about how to lay off employees from that experience.

5 tips for how to lay off employees

  1. Care. This starts long before the layoff conversation. They need to know that there is a foundation of concern for them as a person beyond the job function. If you’ve put effort into showing your care and concern for them on previous occasions, it truly makes this conversation easier. They understand and accept it when you tell them that you’ve done all you could to find work for them. The news is hard, but it’s cushioned slightly by the way you treat them with dignity and respect. 
  2. Give all the details that you can. Hiding details doesn’t help the situation. Give them the accurate picture without releasing any proprietary information or something about another employee.
  3. Do it privately. If at all possible, handle it somewhere private where the employee’s reaction will not be seen by others. This is key.
  4. Do it quickly. Don’t delay. Don’t sit on the news. Do tell them as soon as you know. Do give them face time if at all possible.
  5. Have a manager with you for support. It’s a tough conversation, and in 99% of cases they have a relationship with their manager that is deeper than their relationship with you. Give them a familiar face for comfort, even if it doesn’t change the end result.

Let’s be honest. Nobody ever wants to have that conversation with someone. However, if you must, here’s a short example of how to break the news.

How to lay off employees-a sample conversation

Hey, Bob. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. There’s no easy way to say this, but we are facing some tight budgets. We have been working to find additional work, but those efforts have not panned out. We are going to have to let some of our people go, and you are on that list. We truly wish it didn’t have to be that way, but we do not have a choice at this time. If you are okay with it, I would be happy to help look over your resume and send that out to a few other recruiters I know in the area. Obviously we’d like to bring you back if we find the work coverage, but I don’t know a timeline on that. Here is how your benefits will work… Here is what to expect… Here is how your last day will go… Here’s how you can file for unemployment if you are interested… Okay, I know it’s sudden and a shock for you, but is there anything I can answer right now for you? I would appreciate it you could keep this to yourself until we have a chance to meet with the rest of the affected people. If you have any questions or anything in the next few days, here’s my card. Feel free to call or email me at any time. Thanks again for your time, Bob. I’ll be in touch soon.

Relatively short, it gets all the pertinent points across, and it makes the other person feel like they matter (because they do, but you’re reminding them of that!). That’s what I’ve learned about how to lay off employees. Do you have any lessons, tips, or ideas to share?