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Are Layoffs The New Normal?

The USA Bureau of Labor statistics reported that there were over 6.9 million layoffs for the year to date period ending April 2016.

This number is noteworthy because of its sheer size and it shows a consistent trend where layoffs are now a normalized feature of the employment landscape.

Have layoffs become the new normal? The numbers show that this is true. What are the implications for organizations in terms of how to manage layoffs in the future?

Like it or not, layoffs are now a common business practice. They are commonly used as cost-cutting measures that can be implemented with relatively quick positive impact to the bottom line 

Being laid off does not have the stigma that it has had in the past because so many people have either experienced it first hand or know people who have gone through the process. They realize that being laid off today is more due to cost reductions and strategic realignments than it is to the specific job performance of the employee. 

While layoffs are the new normal there are several factors that organizations should consider when deciding to do a workforce reduction.

Layoffs May Be The New Normal But It Still Negatively Impacts People

While layoffs have become more common and accepted as a business practice it should never be forgotten that they disrupt careers, families and personal lives. The employees who are impacted are your former team members, neighbors, and friends. It is important that an element of compassion and dignity needs to be part of the entire workforce reduction process.

Managing The Layoff Process Well Will Help Talent Acquisition and Retention Down The Road

A workforce reduction not only impacts the displaced employees but also the current and future employees.

Current employees will have a wide range of emotions after a layoff. They may feel insecure, angry, guilty, or uncertain. Smart HR Leaders need to recognize that this will occur and plan to create open lines of communication with all remaining employees. They need to explain why the action was needed and provide certainty and direction on what the future will be.

When this is done right organizations will not see increases in employee turnover after the layoff. The remaining employees will be able to regain the confidence, trust and support in the company. 

Doing a layoff right will also have an impact on the attraction of  future employees. Today’s job candidates are looking at Glassdoor.com reviews before they reach out to potential employers. They will take note of any negative comments, especially when it involves culture and how organizations treat their people.

Close Attention Needs To Be Paid On How To Implement A Workforce Reduction

Layoffs are fortunately not that common. This means that most managers that will be involved in the notification process will not have the training or experience on how to manage the conversation.

This is where trained outplacement professionals along with the HR leadership in the organization can work together on making sure that the messaging is done consistently, legally and with the proper level of sensitivity and compassion.

Providing outplacement services can help make the process go better because it will be a visible show of support to the employee that the company cares and has invested in helping them. Outplacement is a valuable bridge solution for the displaced employee showing them how to take the next steps in their career journey towards re-employment.