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The best way to lay off employees

concernedman19185284.jpgThe need to lay off employees is a reality that is facing more and more businesses these days. Companies that had never before considered letting their employees go are now being faced with this option as a necessary step towards keeping their business afloat. No business owner hopes to ever find him or herself in the situation where they are responsible for informing an employee that they no longer have a job. While the feelings of the employees who will be laid off are no doubt at the front of your mind, there is also reason to be concerned about how news of layoffs will affect the work of the remaining employees. The remaining employees will likely be concerned about the stability of their own jobs, and this concern or even fear, can seriously and negatively affect your workplace culture. Communication is the key to ensuring that your struggling financial situation and resulting layoffs do not destroy your business.

The first thing that you need to do if you feel like layoffs are imminent is to hold a “State of the Business” meeting. In this meeting, all employees need to hear from the owners of the business. You should let the employees know what the current state of the business is and that you have no option but to layoff some employees in order to make it possible to retain all the others. Let the employees know how you plan on handling layoffs. Give deadlines, show the numbers and make it apparent to your employees that layoffs are a necessary step. While this may not make the laid off employees feel any better, it will ease some of the anxiety and fear felt by some of the other employees.

The next thing that you want to bring up in the business meeting is that you will first reduce management salaries before making cuts to frontline worker’s pay. Do not underestimate the importance of keeping your font-line workers happy. Make it apparent that you yourself are willing to take a hit because you value your employees. Handing out bonuses to upper management is generally not going happen as it will obviously send the wrong message and conflicts with your dedication to ensuring that your concern is in keeping as many jobs within the company as possible.

Eliminate all unnecessary expenses. This is easier said than done. Start with eliminating the possibility of paying out large overtime checks. Let your employees know that overtime hours are no longer available and that they will need to get their work done during the allotted work day. If this means that employees need to make lifestyle changes to compensate for the over-time money that they relied on before, so be it.

Where possible, reduce worker hours before you eliminate a position all together. During slow times, work on your continued education programs, cross train, and otherwise strengthen the skills of your employees so that you will be ready for when work picks up again. Do all that you possibly can to avoid layoffs. If you can no longer hold off laying off employees, do so with dignity. Hold conversations with the employees you will lay off. Let them know exactly what the next steps in the process will be, what benefits may still be available to them, and what options they have for unemployment benefits. Give these employees time to gather their personal belongings and say goodbye to their colleagues. Do not treat your laid off employees like criminals by having them escorted from the building or watched by security as they gather their things.

The goal with all these suggestions is to turn in a bad situation into a situation where both employee and employer can work together and understand the situation with dignity and mutual respect.

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