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Susan M. Heathfield

Employee Layoffs - Again

By July 22, 2011

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Interested in best practices during layoffs? According to the Wall Street Journal, "Layoffs Deepen Gloom", companies are laying off employees at a pace not seen in the past year. This is hurting the job market for the unemployed. It is also deepening the continuing economic uncertainty for employers and employees.

Layoffs are a key factor in why jobs are not currently being created. Industrial giants such as Cisco Systems, Inc., Lockheed Martin, Borders Group, Nationwide Insurance, and Cracker Barrel are currently laying off employees. The daily news predicts further layoffs at firms such as Goldman Sachs.

A Reader Asks About How to Do Layoffs

Are there any standards for a company facing a work slowdown? Last hired/first to go? Also any protocol relative to the timing such as Friday versus any other day of the week? End of pay period? Two weeks' severance? What do you recommend?

I responded to the reader with these seven tips for compassionate layoffs. How you do layoffs really matters.

Image Copyright Christopher Steer

More About How Employers Do Layoffs

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Comments
November 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm
(1) Lorraine says:

As far as standards go, I left corporate 8 years ago because I didn’t care for the ridicuous politics and went onto for full time consulting. But I will tell you this, the shift in dynamics in the current corporate structure is going to change, severe changes will have to change. We will have to adhere to the viable working public, the baby boomer age bracket population, and our current economic situation. Please know we have only scratched the surface of how things are going to change.

My feeling based on my 20 years experience in corporate management (HR for 12 of those years, treat people with dignity, respect and forthrightness. I would also gauge the “quality” of committment level the employee’s involved. For example; a 15 year employee may be a fair, gets their job done on time not adding additional but the job requirements but has a stronge committment level and has always made themselves availble for the company; know that loyalty and dedication are of extreme value for most emplyers. Quality not quantity will always win out in 90% of most ptofessions. We all know that quick turn-arounds wind up staining, not only the corporate structure around them but eventually good quality employees you want to recruit may not even want to entertain the possibility of your company. HR needs to be the forefront of marketing to keep good staff committed.

In downsizing, it is always an uncomfertable spot. Being able to do it now within our econmic crisis, you need to understand that not is it just their livlihood, but their life. The emotional state of people will be further challanged and in treating folks with dignity and respect will help lessen the emotionally charged employees. I see there is going to see a lot of this before our economy picks back up (at least 5-7 years).

Giving notice on Friday’s doesn’t necessarily make it easier for folks to deal with, it could actually be worse. I think Wed might be the lessers of evil. It will give them the chance to either drown their sorrows for a few days, giving them time off to refresh themselver and going back into the job market on Monday. Other folks who are extremely very proactive will maybe give themselves a day for the shock and then jump in the saddle again.

Laying off your staff would be advantageous for everyone involved if you end it at the end of a pay period, it makes the most sense especially of your doing mass layoffs. If severence is involved it is even more worthy to do it at the end of pay period and less repercussions of disgruntled employees.

November 18, 2008 at 10:58 am
(2) Antoinette says:

Are you aware of any fortune size companies that has reduced the hours of employees as an alternative solution to layoffs? How did they apply this method to their exempt and non-exempt populations? What types of positions were impacted? Can you name some of these companies? What are the positives and negatives of this approach?

Thanks

March 15, 2009 at 11:00 am
(3) Jim Grolemund says:

If a company has long-term non-exempt employees that have demonstrated specific skill sets useful to another department, is the company justified in laying off those employees while retaining short-term contract employees to perform those functions?

Case in point: An engineering company has a backlog and is in fact paying overtime to contracted AutoCAD workers to meet schedules. A long-term, non-exempt, direct employee with the requisite AutoCAD skills and demonstrated abilities, who has been working in another area of the company, and, is willing to perform the work, has been laid off with the promise of recall.

Should the company have let a contract worker go and re-assigned the long-term direct?

March 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm
(4) Gary Lindberg says:

While I agree very much with Lorraine, I remember some controversy about which day to conduct the necessary layoff. As someone who has done numerous lay-offs and as someone who has been laid off several times, I understand it from both points of view. I believe the best day to lay off employees is on Thursday or better on Friday. The end of the week gives employees a full or almost full paycheck which is vitally needed when you have to pay your bills. It gives employees more respect to let them work a full week. And it lays them off when they are going to be off anyway–i.e. for the weekend. The weekend is typically time when people have other activities which distract them from the pain they have suffered. It gives them time to adjust before they feel the pressure to get up and start running again. It gives them vital time without pressure to think about what to do next. If you laid a person off on Wednesday, then I would feel pressure to start running full steam ahead on Thursday without adequately thinking things through. So having experienced it both ways, I recommend Friday as the best day for a layoff.

September 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm
(5) Gary Lindberg says:

Susan,
I am sorry, but I have to disagree with your recommendation about laying people off at the beginning of the week. Your recommendation is like the tail wagging the dog. Why does a company have employees? I suggest it is to fulfill the needs of the Company. It is NOT to fulfill the needs of the employees although we all recognize that the Company functions better when it considers and respects the needs of the employees. Therefore, the Company should layoff its employees at the END of the week. As one who has been laid off a few times, I can speak with experience. Such a layoff gives the Company the opportunity to use the services of the employees for as much time as the Company can. It gives the employees the weekend to grieve, fret, or be angry, all of which a laid off employees experiences in their emotions after such an event. The weekend is good time to grieve or get over their shock and is the best time that a laid off employee uses to do that so that they do not lose pay OR productive time to look for new work. How many people do you know who lost a job on one day and immediately became productive in their job search on the next day? I never did that, and I don’t think I was alone in the past or whenever it may happen to anyone. As an employer, the Company wants to use its employees to the best possible extent. As an employee, I need time to get over the shock and weekend activities help to facilitate that process better than during the week when the time counts in terms of doing the various activities of an active job search.

March 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm
(6) gal says:

Wow! Gary I understand that you are a company man but have some compassion. An employee being laid off is having their whole life changed. Telling them at the end of the week is a horrible thing to do. People have families and need to deal with finances (especially if they have children). If an employee is told in the beginning or middle of the week they have time to adjust and work on the finances and to explain to the children about reduction in expenses. By letting the employee deal with this life changing experience during the week coming up with a financial plan that works for the family) the employee looks confident and looks like they can handle this difficult time in front of their children. It at least puts them in a good spot in front of their children. I would have hated to be one of your employees as you don’t seem to have understanding for your fellow employees. Just remember what goes around – comes around

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