I read this article by Forbes magazine on the subject of delivering bad news and realized just how many companies fail to follow the steps outlined when they lay people off. I honestly believe the majority of corporations and management teams donât mean to do this incorrectlyâthey just havenât been trained in what it takes to effectively communicate whatâs happening. The result is an angry, vocal group of ex-staff members and a concerned set of clients who wonder if they should look for a new vendor.
Here are the most common mistakes companies make during layoffs:
1. Blindside Staff
I once worked at a start-up company that, unbeknown to the staff, was running out of funds. So, one day we walked in and saw at 10:00 a.m. a large group of people got up from their desks and went to the cafeteria for a meeting. The other large group got up and went to the conference room. Each had been sent an email on where to go. When they got to their respective meetings, the cafeteria group was told they were all being let go and to get their things, head home, and the company would be in touch with final pay. The other group was held hostage in the conference room and told they had to stay there until the layoff was complete. Needless to say, the fallout from that experience was significant.
2. Delaying The Inevitable
Iâm working with a woman right now whose company announced a layoff five months ago after they were bought out and merged with a larger firm. Absolutely nothing has happened since. She says the staff morale is at an all-time low. People feel paralyzed. They donât want to look for a new job if they donât have to, but they also donât want to walk in one day and find out itâs over. Productivity is down and stress-related illness is up from the fear of the unknown.
3. Covering Up The Truth
I have a friend who worked for a larger privately held company. One day he walked in and learned the company was âcutting expensesâ and laid off 20% of the staff. At the time he thought he was lucky because he kept his job. A month later, news came out that the owner of the company was going through a messy divorce due to cheating on his wife and had been using company funds to support his mistress. The layoffs were a way to save money so he could pay himself more to cover the alimony payments while still maintaining his current lifestyle. My friend found a new job, along with several of his colleagues who couldnât stomach working for the owner after that.
4. No Justifiable Explanation
Some companies announce layoffs due to âa decline in salesâ only to show an increase in earnings for shareholders in the same quarter. This sends a very confusing message to the world. You are making more money, so you are laying people off?
The best companies are clear as to why they are laying offâeven if the reason is unpopular. If you feel appeasing shareholders is more important than keeping people employed, then say so. You might catch a lot of heat for your choice, but at least you wonât look like a liar.
5. No Support For Those Affected
âNow that so many companies have conducted layoffs, it appears that HR departments and management teams have decided to scale back what they spend on outplacement programs (a.k.a. career coaching for those affected by the layoff). And, while their lack of effort to help those who have been working for them usually doesnât make the national news, it does spread like wildfire through the social community.
Today, layoff victims have a large platform for tarnishing the reputation of a former employer who throws them out on the street without help: social media. Companies shouldnât underestimate the negative impact failing to give proper resources to layoff victims will have on their reputation.
6. Not Addressing All Parties Involved
Some companies donât feel they have to explain their reasons for laying off staff to anyone but those affected. What they forget is that anyone involved with their company is affected! For example, employees that donât get let go have to deal with survivorâs guilt. Itâs not as if they wonât ever see or hear from their former colleagues ever again. So, what should they do? And, no matter how hard you try to hide it, customers will hear about the layoffs. Would you rather they hear about it from a disgruntled ex-employee, or from you personally?
In a time when transparency in business is being demanded, companies cannot afford to ignore their communication responsibilities to all parties involved. Otherwise, you can expect to lose the trust of the very people you need on your side to see through these challenging times for your business.
7. Fail To Provide Progress Reports
After the deed is done and the employees are let go, many companies try to rush back to âbusiness as usual.â Well, that doesnât work. Why? Because the layoff fundamentally changed your business so there is no going back to the way it was.
Instead, companies should offer weekly progress reports to show those who are still with the company the ongoing efforts they are making to ensure the decision to lay off workers will in the long run be the right thing for both the business and them. You donât stop the communications until you reach the point where you can show proof of success (i.e. stopped losing money, stabilized budget, etc.). At which point, you announce the new game plan to get the company back to its former glory.
8. Not Treating People With Respect After They Are Let Go
This is by far the most important. Iâm amazed at how many companies let people go and then try their hardest to distance themselves from them. Example: A company I know laid off 2,000 people recently. Not only did they not give them any outplacement services, but they also decided they would not allow anyone at the company to be a reference for those who were let go. As a result, the 2,000 workers had no way to give potential employers a reference to prove they were part of an RIF (reduction in workforce).
The company stated that given the size of the layoff, employers would know about it and wouldnât need references. Well, anyone in HR knows that these days references are very important. The company even went so far as to tell the employees who remained that if they got caught giving a reference, they would be fired. The 2,000 workers were forced to give an automated telephone line where it would verify pay and dates of employment as the reference instead. This created a lot of challenges for those workers who had been with the company for many years since they honestly had no live references they could provide during their job search.
Sharing This Article Will Help Future Layoff Victims!
I hope managers who are reading this article tuck it away so they can use it as a guide if the day comes when they need to conduct a layoff. I also hope anyone who has been affected by a layoff passes it along to their management team. Given how little training there is in conducting effective layoffs, we need to get corporate leadership up to speed on the right way to handle such a difficult situation. History shows that companies that manage the delivery of bad news and the need for change effectively are the ones that survive. So, the more senior management teams who read this and opt to follow the guidelines, the better, right? Do your part to educate your leadership teamâsend them a link to this article today!
Looking for outplacement services for your former employees?
I'd love it if you checked out the courses and coaching options my company offers, including our FREE community. In this community, professionals are learning how to become empowered in their careers so they can finally find career happiness and satisfaction. More importantly, there are tons of resources inside this community that have helped thousands of professionals find their next job.
Check out Work It Daily's outplacement services today! My team and I are looking forward to working with you soon.
In order to predict corporate layoffs, I have a Google alert set up that lets me know when we're going to see a big shift in the market. Now, if you've been following me for a while, you know that I've been calling this shift the Great Restructuring of 2022. What you're not seeing in the mediaâbecause all you're hearing about is that there's a labor shortage and that there are tons of jobs and companies can't fill positionsâis the restructuring going on behind the scenes.
Check out my TikTok video above to see examples of the alerts I get from Google that let me know when a company might be laying off employees.
What all of these corporate layoff alerts mean is that even though 41 million people quit their jobs last year (the Great Resignation), they quit jobs nobody wants. So when you hear about a labor shortage, it's all for jobs nobody actually wants to work.
I get at least 50 DMs a day from people saying, "What am I doing wrong? I'm applying for jobs. I can't get anyone to call me back." And I have to explain to them that there's a job shortage for the kinds of jobs they want, those really good jobs, and it's only going to get more competitive.
Accessing The Hidden Job Market
It's already the most competitive job market ever. Think of how many people are applying for jobs now if 40+ million quit during the pandemic. How can you stand out if there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of job applicants for a single position?
In response to the overwhelming number of job applicants they're receiving, many companies aren't posting jobs publicly anymore. Instead, recruiters are reaching out to individuals they think are a match for the job. It's called the hidden job market.
People don't realize this is what's happening and they get frustrated and feel bad about themselves. They start asking, "What's wrong with me?" There's nothing wrong with you. You just don't know the new rules for career success. You don't understand how to do this, how to tap in, for example, to those recruiters, and how to help recruiters find you and call you about jobs. You have to know these new rules. You have to follow this information that's not public because what you're seeing out there about the economy isn't an accurate reflection of what's going to happen in the job market.
If you want to be one of those people that has a job no matter whatâin an up market, in a down marketâyou have to know the rules for that, to pay attention to the indicators, to know how to make sure that your job is always super relevant to your company. I'm here to help you. I'm here to educate you, the job seeker. I'm your advocate.
I'd love it if you joined my FREE community where professionals like you are learning how to become empowered in their careers so they can finally find career happiness and satisfaction, and overcome job burnout once and for all.
Sign up for my FREE community and become a Workplace Renegade today! My team and I are looking forward to working with you soon.
Here's my issue with the word "outplacement." The name itself says, "You're out. Go get placed someplace else." What is a more motivating word?
We see this a lot in business. We hang on to words that maybe made sense at one point in time, but we've evolved. I think this word needs to be retired. But the other issue I have is that the companies that are doing outplacement right now, again, are old school.
The companies that still do outplacement have been around for a really long time. And when a big company does a layoff and is very visible in the public, they will go and purchase outplacement services from these older companies which honestly are teaching outdated resume, LinkedIn, and cover letter techniques, and aren't really helping laid-off employees figure out what they want to do in their careers.
And how do I know that? Well, I built a platform—a career coaching platform—and all of these people who are getting this "outplacement" are now coming to us after it's been unsuccessful.
The Solution? Career Coaching...
Inside my career coaching community, we're finding out how unsuccessful outplacement services really are. We're seeing what laid-off employees were told and we see how wrong it is. They come to us, and we help them fix it.
What's different about us? We're disrupting the industry. For starters, anyone can join my platform for free. We believe career coaching is a sign of greatness, not a sign of weakness. Outplacement is seen as something shameful. You did something wrong, you got laid off. But with career coaching, it's different.
Think of your employees as becoming alumni of your organization, as the alumni having a place to collectively go. That's what we're doing for companies. Smart companies are doing away with outplacement and coming to us and saying, "Create an alumni center for my folks and give them the support that they need so that they can figure out what they want to do next," and we support them. That's what we do. That is the future of support for the people that you have to let go in your organization.
If you would like to learn more about how that works, you can direct message me and I can share more with you. But even if you don't work with us, please think twice about overpaying for these outplacement services that are really not doing your people any good. There is a better way (and a more motivating word) than outplacement services, and that's career coaching.
Recently, a reader asked the following question: "I was recently let go from my last company. Are your career experts able to assist with exit statements on why you left a job for situations like this?"
Yes, we do a lot of work in this area. It falls into our "Interview Prep" category.
Here's how we help you work through and create a solid answer to: "Why did you leave your last job?"
Steal The HR Playbook
At Work It Daily, we provide expert career courses you can watch to find out how to prepare for behavioral interview questions like the one above. Then, we give you a comprehensive list of 18 behavioral interview questions that you could get asked during an interview. (I'm talking REALLY tough questions—the kind that make you sweat just hearing them, let alone answering them!)
Once you've read through and thought about these behavioral interview questions, you can choose to write out your answers and submit them to a career coach for review. The career coach then works with you by email so you can fine-tune your answers and be truly confident they are sending the right message. In particular, we focus on the questions that are giving you the greatest "crisis of confidence," and then we work on those until you are 110% ready to discuss them in an interview.
Interview Prep Eliminates The #1 Killer Of Candidates In Job Interviews
The process above works well for those who have been fired or laid off because it helps them work through their pain and fears related to discussing what they see as an "unpleasant" item on their career record and resume.
Through your interactions and support from your career coach, you'll see that this is nothing to be sad, embarrassed, or angry about. We help you move past the emotions and focus on the good (yes, good!) that has come from the experience. Trust me, you need to move past this. Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal. So, if you aren't completely comfortable talking about all the tough stuff, then you can bet hiring managers will read it in your body language, facial expressions, and tone. People know when you are lying—and not being at peace with your past and trying to hide it is a form of lying, especially to yourself.
So, if you need help answering, "Why did you leave your last job?" check out Work It Daily and all of our career resources. We'll help you effectively answer this question (and other difficult behavioral interview questions) and gain the confidence you need to ace your next interview.
This article was originally published at an earlier date.