7 Ways To Ensure Fairness & Transparency During Layoffs

Experts believe that if the entire process of downsizing is handled transparently and when best practices are employed, impacted staff don’t harbor ill feelings towards their past employer and remaining employees return to productivity faster.


Photo Credit : Stock,

Organisations should ensure a smooth transition during the layoff process.

With the proliferation of new technologies, trimming down of the workforce has become a common eventuality at corporates today. Companies faced with difficult business decisions don’t always follow best practices when determining how and when to notify employees that their roles are redundant, causing bitterness and ill-feelings among the laid off and remaining staff. Unfriendly employee policies hurt the corporate brand image and result in a loss of trust. Today, downsizing may be inevitable against the backdrop of protectionism and with the global macro-economic outlook pointing towards a recession in the near future. 

However, experts believe that if the entire process of downsizing is handled transparently and when best practices are employed, impacted staff don’t harbor ill feelings towards their past employer and remaining employees return to productivity faster. Below is a list of 7 key points that organisations should keep in mind to ensure a smooth transition during the layoff process:

1. Building a business case:

Once you have finalized your plan and prepared a list of employees to be laid off, it is safe to assume that you have already considered other cost cutting options. Hence this plan would have been on the cards for a long time. This is why it is so critical to keep all communication channels with your employees open and transparently discuss with them all the details you are able to share about the changing business needs and possible workforce shifts. This would at least make employees aware about the situation and prepare them for any future course of action. Additionally, if such an eventuality does occur, employees will at least remember that you were transparent with them from the very start and did not withhold any information that should have been shared with them.

2. Training managers to communicate efficiently:

Once you have built a business case for having to let go of certain employees, it is prudent that you invest time in training your senior staff such as HR and senior and mid-level managers to communicate the right message to employees. For such a discussion, it is also important to follow the prescribed legal guidelines and best practices to avoid any unnecessary controversies later which can pose a danger to your company’s brand image and perception in the industry.  

3. Prepare your staff to deal with their emotions:

It is quite normal for your senior level employees to feel a wide range of emotions when having to lay off people; sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety, confusion, cynicism, embarrassment and resentment are some of them. It is essential that members of management deal with these feelings and prepare themselves accordingly. This would enable them to be more empathetic when having a conversation with their subordinates.

4. Create a layoff team:

Preparing a layoff team prior to making a decision will enable all important stakeholders of the company to provide their views and suggestions on how best to handle the situation. This team can include department heads of HR, finance, legal and others. Externally, it is also wise to connect with legal counsel and employment attorneys who are experts in handling workforce reductions. The size and scope of your external partners may depend on the number of employees who may be impacted during the event.

5: Prepare a plan & assign responsibilities:

Meet with each department head or manager responsible for making decisions on the list of employees to be laid off viz a viz those to be retained. Each department can then prepare a plan and assign responsibilities accordingly. Put in place systems for feedback and to track the progress of assigned tasks to ensure everyone remains on the same page.

6: Keep the communication channels open: 

Schedule regular meetings with your retained staff to ensure that their fears and concerns are addressed. This is crucial as not keeping the communication channels open can result in the spread of misinformation and unnecessary rumour mongering.  By speaking to employees openly & transparently, you will ensure that you are sending a signal that their contribution is valued and that they are a part of a larger goal.

7: Invest in an outplacement service provider:

Today, there are a number of outplacement service providers that assist organisations to find employment for their laid off staff. By investing in a contemporary outplacement service provider that delivers modern solutions, you will be conveying to employees that you truly care about providing services that will deliver the best chance at finding the right job faster. In truth, HR departments don’t want to go it alone when it comes to navigating workforce changes. Partnering with an outplacement services provider will not only help you take care of your impacted employees, it will provide the support your HR department needs.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Tags assigned to this article:
transparency layoffs


Around The World