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  • Writer's pictureKacie Sizemore

A Lesson in Layoffs, What Not to Do

As someone who spends her days helping companies and their people thrive, a frequent complaint I hear from executives at prospective client organizations goes something like this, "Employees have no loyalty anymore. We bend over backward, and they won't stay." While that sentiment may be accurate, especially without insights from purposeful employee experience work, there are several reasons why employees don't stick around as they have in the past. One of the biggest reasons for persistent churn is that employers have shown little loyalty to employees over the years, and people have noticed.

Here is a prime example.

Recently a friend of mine was invited to an all-hands virtual meeting where he was told by the CEO of his company that he and a couple hundred of his peers, almost the entire company aside from senior leadership, no longer had jobs, effective immediately. There would be no severance, no placement services, no insurance continuation despite the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing.

His company was not a business whose operations halted due to COVID-19. It was not a startup. It was a high revenue, professional organization. They were still working, still selling, and until very recently, still hiring. In fact, their solutions are in-demand as companies navigate the transition from physical office spaces to work from home settings. The company let their employees down, and they no longer had the staff to honor client support contracts.

As days have turned into weeks, the real kicker is that my friend and many of his coworkers still haven't heard from their bosses. Those bosses that they have worked with for years are part of a small skeleton crew keeping operations going. Very few from the senior leadership team have reached out to their old employees to offer references, apologize for how things went down, or to say anything at all.

This cruel regard is how the "leaders" at his company chose and continue to choose to treat their employees, radio silence.

Given the current situation, sometimes tough decisions have to be made. We may have to layoff or furlough employees. We may have to squeeze operations down to a virtual standstill. However, how we choose to treat our people during times like these create a reputation that will follow us for years to come. That reputation, good or bad, is news that spreads like wildfire and will impact our ability to attract and retain talent well into the future. Although the virus is wreaking havoc on our lives, we can still uphold our organizations' values, and we can always be kind.

Kindness is what will get us through.

If you are facing a situation where layoffs or furloughs are in order and want to maintain cultural integrity, we are offering free 30 minute consultations to help you navigate this challenge. Grab your time slot here.

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