RETHINKING LAYOFF PRACTICES

By April 6, 2016Blog

Layoffs are part of being an employee and an employer. Statistically layoffs are usually related to the overall economy and business cycle. And statistically, layoffs are balanced across all demographics. For example, despite anecdotal belief older workers and younger workers are not dismissed at a higher rate than middle age groups.

For employers there is a tried and true protocol for laying off employees. Lisa Quast recently produced a traditional tip list for laying off staff.

  1. Be compassionate
  2. Treat the employee with respect
  3. Be honest about the reason for the separation
  4. Prepare your messaging ahead of time
  5. Organize the entire process to avoid legal and social errors
  6. Be positive about their future
  7. Listen to the employee’s concerns and fears

Many of the legal and managerial practices surrounding layoffs have evolved only slightly over the past decade. One practice that has seen a change is what day to layoff staff. Many managers can remember that Friday was the status quo day to lay off staff. That is now not considered the best day – strategically or ethically – to separate from workers. It now seems that Wednesday is the new popular day for layoffs.

The main supporting factor for the Wednesday layoff is that it gives workers a good start on finding work before the weekend. With digital platforms like LinkedIn, there is a lot more traffic mid-week than on the weekend. Strategically if a worker notifies their network of a layoff mid-week, they have a better start to their job search than a notification made on a Friday.

So what about Friday? Why was Friday the traditional day of choice?

Many believe the Friday layoff is easier on the managers. They don’t have to deal with the immediate concerns of remaining workers particularly after a large layoff if it occurs on a Friday.

Marv Russell, a human resources consultant, had this to say about the Friday layoff in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article.  

“That’s the easy way out [the Friday layoff], because you get to go home to your spouse and your family and go in another direction, but this person who lost their job, what are they going to do Saturday morning when they wake up? Middle management has to learn, your job is not just to get the job done, (but) to do the job in the right way.”

In the end, organizations and managers need to think about the ethical, cultural and public relations aspects of layoffs. When you treat separating employees with respect and dignity (even if they may not have displayed such in the workplace) you are showing current and prospective employees that the organization has a high moral ethic and truly cares about workers – even if the organization has to lay them off. These actions not only work strategically in favor of the organization, but set a positive cultural tone.

If having a positive workplace culture is important to an organization then even the day a layoff occurs – big or small – should be taken into account.

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