‘Tis the season for layoffs – maybe the message should have been delivered differently?

‘Tis the season for layoffs – maybe the message should have been delivered differently?

‘Tis the season for layoffs? Here at GroupOne Background Screening, we certainly hope not. You’ve probably heard this story, but according to several national news sources, the CEO of the mortgage company Better.com laid off 900 employees on December 1. With the holidays rapidly approaching, such timing is questionable to say the least.

The reduction in force came as a complete surprise. In addition, the news was delivered during a brief Zoom call lasting a total of three minutes. The CEO stated, “We are laying off about 15 percent of the company for a number of reasons — market efficiency and performances, and productivity. If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.” The employees’ computer access was turned off immediately thereafter.

If a CEO was attempting to be intentionally cruel, he could not have planned this any better.

During the same call, the CEO also said, “This is the second time in my career I’m doing this. The last time I did it I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger.” Folks, we couldn’t make this stuff up even if we tried.

Certainly, the company had reasons for the terminations. And leaders did provide a month’s pay and three months of benefits. But these layoffs have not only gone dramatically viral, they serve as an example of what not to do when conducting reductions in force.

Here’s some recommend steps during this difficult process:

    Handle terminations individually no matter the number of employees involved. Sure, it’s more work, but it’s also traumatic for the employee. It’s more respectful to deliver the news individually. This duty can be divided between staff members.

    Allow the employee time to ask questions. The official delivering the bad news can have a script and written summary to be provided to the employee. They can also refer them to benefits representatives. Allow the employee the courtesy of knowing they will get answers to their concerns. The company official should not answer why the employee was selected for termination.

    Don’t talk about how bad the layoffs make you feel. We promise, the terminated employee feels much worse.

    Avoid taking these actions during the winter holidays. Certainly, there may be issues when such timing cannot be avoided. But do you really want your company to be splashed all over social media as the Scrooges who “laid off employees just before Christmas?”

The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied.

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