Leave departing workers with a good impression and reduce the effects of downsizing on surviving employees

How to Turn Employee Layoffs Into the Most Positive Experience for Everyone - Talent Intelligence The reality of running a business is, at times, staff reductions may be necessary to remain solvent; however, if handled poorly, they can damage relationships with both current and exiting employees.

In today’s online environment, there’s always a chance disgruntled workers might share their feelings on social media, job rating or other sites — and the outcome can be costly. Companies with poor reputations can pay 10 percent more to woo candidates, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review.

Even though they aren’t directly involved in the experience, employees who survive a layoff are also often impacted. Seeing coworkers filter out the door can prompt feelings of fear they may be next; if that panic grows, they may eventually start looking for another, seemingly more secure job.

Employers can take several steps, though, to prevent either of the above scenarios from occurring — including:

Establishing a culture of transparency

Employees who trust their employer are more likely to say they’re motivated to do their best, have a positive relationship with their supervisor and recommend the organization as a good place to work, according to American Psychological Association data.

Unfortunately, ones who have experienced change in the workplace are less likely to trust their company — and more likely to say they plan to leave it within the next year.

Fostering an open line of communication about staff reductions as they occur,  including what it means for the organization and any plans that are in place to improve financial, staffing or other situations, can help prevent concern about future employee layoffs and the impact they may have on remaining employees’ jobs.


Offering assistance to ease the transition

A recent RiseSmart survey indicated providing outplacement services may build trust during a layoff. More than half — 61 percent — of employees at companies that did not utilize outplacement help felt their employer didn’t manage the exit process well.

Conversely, organizations that incorporated robust outplacement services into the employee layoff process — such as providing job leads, career coaching and manager notification training — received 43 percent better employee opinion ratings than employers that didn’t offer outplacement service assistance.

Giving employees a voice

Exit interviews don’t have to be limited to workers who submit two weeks’ notice. Asking soon-to-be-former employees to share their thoughts provides them with an opportunity to air their grievances; reinforces goodwill by showing them the company cares about what they think — and could possibly yield valuable feedback, given exiting employees may be less concerned with censoring what they have to say after a layoff. View our blog post on conducting effective exit interviews for tips on how to structure the process.

If some of exiting employees’ comments spark concern about widespread discontent within the organization, the company may want to also distribute a survey to employees that survive a layoff to find out if changes need to be made relating to staff reductions or other policies.

For additional pointers on interacting with former employees or managing current ones, our blog posts on handling global talent management,

5 employee engagement initiatives to consider, establishing networks to stay in touch with former employees and using people analytics to transform the way HR works may be of interest.