Staff reduction, mass employee lay-offs or a reduction in force, is a critical process. Consequences for not complying with labor laws or not acting and communicating correctly can be far-reaching.
Declining workloads or under-performing groups are some of the reasons that lead to the decision to reduce staff. Not executing staff reductions correctly can expose the company to many liabilities and potentially law suits.
There are several steps to take in this process and in most countries there are specific requirements which may include employee and/or union consultation and involvement and some steps could also be subject to approvals by governmental organizations. In many countries there are very specific justifications that a company has to be able to provide to show that the process of selecting who to lay off was fair and equitable and that no discrimination took place.
It is important that managers understand the correct process to follow for staff reductions and that they are able to for example conduct employee notification meetings in the right manner.
The resource you can download above contains a few slides which may be useful at a manager orientation meeting to ensure the principles and approach to follow with this staff reduction is well understood by the managers. There are also slides highlighting the human impact of staff reductions and the need to ensure that those who remain with the company are supported through the emotions when they see other trusted and well-liked colleagues leave.
Without proper preparation of the managers/supervisors before the notification meetings take place you risk them making incorrect statements or forgetting to make important statements. Sometimes unprepared managers act in ways that could be interpreted as discriminatory. The slides will help you minimize that risk as you first orient managers/supervisors in a group and then have each manager/supervisor work with his/her HR Representative to practice how to conduct the notification meeting correctly during the staff reduction process.
- It is not only the impacted employees who are going to have an emotional reaction to the staff reduction, employees intended to remain at the company may be losing valued friendly connections with peers – even friendships. Be sure to reassure those whom you intend to stay with the company to stop them from looking around for other jobs during the uncertainty that is created in the workforce when a reduction in staff is planned or in progress.
- It is very important to plan the notification meetings to take place very fast. The shorter the time of uncertainty and people waiting to be called in for a meeting, the better your chances of restoring the morale of the remaining employees and avoid retention risks.
- During times like these is when your company’s values should drive decision-making and how you talk to employees. Your branding messages can claim honorable conduct and make promises of fair treatment, but it is during staff reductions that you get to prove that you meant it. Employees will remember how you conducted the staff reduction more than they will remember what is written on your posters about company values.
- (HR/Office Manager) Remember also to check in with the managers and supervisors who conducted the notification meetings. It is tough to tell a number of people that their jobs will go away and watch their emotional reactions to that.
The staff reduction process is tough on everyone and it is vital that you plan it and conduct it exactly according to the rules and laws of the country where the people are employed. Internally you also need to make sure your planning includes an orientation process for those managers and supervisors who have a role in the notification meetings. And most importantly, check in with those who will remain after the notification meetings are complete to ensure that your business activities can resume soon after.