HOW TO COMMUNICATE DURING A LAYOFF (PART 1)
One of the most difficult parts of carrying out a layoff is the actual notification. Whether you are delivering the message of an impending layoff to a group of managers or delivering the actual notification to individual employees, proper communication should be your number one concern.
Everything from your employer brand to employee retention rides upon your team’s ability, willingness, and readiness to be transparent, answer questions, and be compassionate (without commiserating). To help you and your team prepare for the layoff notification, we recently held an HCI webcast with Leidos’ Sr. Workplace Relations Manager, Caitlin Stango, and RiseSmart’s Vice President of Practice Strategy Karen Stevens in which we discussed the importance of manager notification training and how to act like your own PR team.
We asked Caitlin and Karen to shed some more light on the subject in this installment of “Frequently Asked Questions.”
Who should be in charge of creating a layoff project plan? Whose buy-in or sign off do you need?
Karen Stevens: Someone from the Human Resources team should, ideally, be responsible for creating the plan and for working with someone in senior leadership to decide who the key stakeholders are. Part of that process involves thinking through and helping senior leadership see who those key stakeholders are as well, so thinking through the ramifications of leaving someone out is an important part of the process of getting their buy in.
Caitlin Stango: There may be an overall project plan outlining key operational or contractual dates and activities—in this scenario, it’s important for the HR or layoff project plan to be integrated into a larger plan if it’s available. Frequent status updates and check-ins are in an important part of the project plan management. Making iterative changes helps to keep the project plan relevant and up to date. From a layoff notification perspective, it’s critical to have line items and dates for things such as Manager Notification Training, Layoff Notification Meetings and Last Day Worked/Term Date on the project plan from the very beginning, so folks can visually see an endpoint.
How do you convince senior management that “taking care of people” is a worthwhile goal when they may be looking to measure ROI in terms of numbers?
KS: More often than not, doing the “right thing” and “taking care of people” have a positive impact on the bottom line. Part of the goal of having the detailed project plan is showing that impact. Detailing out the risk mitigation, the long term impact to the company brand, and the morale of employees who are staying – which in turn impacts productivity – can make the case for “taking care of people” being a measurable piece of the ROI.
How can a layoff project plan be adapted for different scenarios?
CS: The layoff project plan will always have a laundry list of standard activities—adaptation comes with the flexibility of your deliverables in relation to the overall timeline. Examples of standard activities on a layoff project plan include: create a communications plan, develop and implement individual communications, hold weekly/bi-weekly project plan check-ins, conduct a WARN analysis, develop layoff/termination documents, conduct manager notification training, coordinate with outplacement/training vendors, conduct layoff notification meetings, etc. Once you decide upon which items must be included in your plan, work with your team to develop a flexible plan that allows you to include those items in a manner that best fits your timeline.