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To Those Staying and Those Leaving: Layoffs Suck

Layoffs are brutal. 

No one wants to tell someone they are losing their job. The situation is difficult, emotional, and overall, tough. Despite efforts to hold off on job reductions during the coronavirus pandemic, new budgets will call for cutting jobs.

In early May, CEO Brian Chesky announced that Airbnb would be laying off 1,900 employees, comprising 25 percent of the total staff. 

Fast forward to August, layoffs are only ramping up. According to Restaurant Business, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dunkin’ have all announced plans to close restaurants, including hundreds of locations in the U.S. 

In Texas, a hospital system tried to avert layoffs by having employees take one day off per week, using vacation time for eight weeks; however, in the end, it was not enough to avoid the layoffs. 

Other sources state that media companies have also begun to let go of staff as they struggle not only with the economic fallout from the pandemic but also increased demand of consumers for online-video streaming services.

No one is exempt from the pandemic ramifications. 

Our Advice: 

At CMP, we have seen Reductions-in-Force (RIFs) impact performance and culture for years after the event with stories of the RIF shared among multiple generations of employees. 

Avoid the Gazillion Entertainment tale

Gazillion Entertainment’s employees were asked to work 50-60-hour weeks and not take vacation time. When the employees were laid off via email, they received no severance and were not even paid for their accrued paid time off (PTO). Gazillion Entertainment is no longer operating and has countless low Glassdoor reviews.

While a decision to execute a reduction in force is difficult, it may also be necessary. When you have determined that the decision is right for you and your business, make sure to implement your decision with tact and respect. 

Do the right thing.

Unfortunately, RIFs happen. Whether one or one thousand are impacted, each reduction in force affects each employee, their families, friends, and community. The decision may also have an impact on the remaining workforce as they may feel uncertain and disengaged when they see their former colleagues leave.

Like Airbnb, choose to handle and communicate a necessary business decision during a tough period both with care and justice. 

We know workforce reductions are a challenge. So, the most important aspect of conducting layoffs and effective outplacement must be to implement procedures with the utmost respect and courtesy. 

To Those Staying:

The separation process can be emotional for all parties, but it need not be a negative experience. The most important thing to do is to develop a plan and implement it with empathy. Thorough planning will lead to flawless execution and will help to make the difficult process go smoother. 

Research supports the notion that if you have developed a reputation for trustworthiness, employees are more likely to understand that you honestly have no other choice and are making these difficult decisions to competently keep the company afloat. After all, the news is easier to accept from leaders who consistently display honesty, competency, and concern for their employees.

To Those Leaving: 

Losing your job can be one of the most difficult experiences that you will face, so knowing how to cope with the time in between your last job and your next job will be important. 

While you may find losing your job hard to deal with, most career experts say the best thing you can do is get right back into the job market—even if you've received a severance package—rather than sit around remaining discouraged. And you should not be discouraged—look at this firing as a chance to start anew with a better opportunity. There’s magic in thinking big! 

We know that layoffs disrupt careers, impact morale, and put a strain on corporate resources. So, properly preparing to help employees through this difficult time is vital. Remember, when the process is enacted with compassion and appreciation, tough questions and emotional reactions can be resolved. Hopefully, the layoff will not suck as much to those staying to those leaving, and all parties can confidently face the future. 

~ Maryanne Pina-Frodsham


For more information on how to prepare to address tough questions and emotional reactions, visit CMP and view our guide: The Definitive Guide To Conducting Layoffs e-Book.