How Outplacement Can Quell Negative Layoff Emotions
December 19, 2018 by Josh Hrala
Layoffs can trigger many different emotions in those being let go. Impacted employees may feel angry, sad, scared, and a slew of other emotions, usually walking down the stages of grief until they land on acceptance.
At the same time, HR leaders at companies are feeling the weight. After all, HR is responsible for conducting the layoff and it’s never easy seeing staff members go through a troubling time.
Even retained staff members will feel the weight of a reduction event, wondering if they will be the next to go or worrying how their friends and coworkers who were let go will fair in their career transition.
While there are numerous ways HR leaders can conduct a layoff notification meeting that minimizes the risk of negative emotions getting out of control, one of the biggest things organizations can do is to make sure they offer a well-crafted severance agreement and package to their outgoing staff members.
Let’s take a closer look at what that entails. Also, if you’d like to learn more about how to conduct a layoff meeting, check out our guide here.
Making a Great Severance Package (Hint: Add Outplacement)
Severance packages are pretty much standard practice when it comes to layoffs and RIFs. Everyone knows that they hep protect companies from getting into legal battles with ex-employees. In exchange for that, companies offer employees a severance payment, which also helps employees make the transition to a new job.
That last part is important for you to consider. When someone is trying to land a new role, they have to land that role, typically, before the severance payment runs out (if they want to protect their savings and other accounts).
This is a huge burden. It makes the job hunt, which is already stressful enough, even more daunting. This is also where negative emotions start to come back around. Sure, employees do start to move on, but if they are having problems with their job hunt, they start to place blame back on the company that let them go.
So, despite companies offboarding an employee in the typical way, they can still open themselves up to negative feelings, which can be expressed either by the employee spreading that negativity through word of mouth or online. Both are no good.
What’s This Mean Then?
Well, in short, it means that businesses have a problem on their hands: they need to get their staff members into a new role before those negative feels bubble back to the surface.
And this is where outplacement comes into play.
By providing outplacement alongside your standard severance agreement, you provide a way for your staff member to land a new role as quickly and as pain-free as possible.
This level of support and care doesn’t go unnoticed. Not only will your employee feel like you are wanting to help them in their next move, HR’s emotions are quelled, too. Who wants to be the HR leader who knows that their employees are struggling? That’s not why HR leaders get into the profession.
Combine This With Proper Layoff Procedure
By adding outplacement, HR leaders can help their employees get through some of the emotional hurdles and stresses that can come with making a transition to a new role. But, it’s equally important that layoffs are handled with the utmost care from start to finish.
This means that HR and managers need to be thorough when planning a RIF or layoff, paying special attention to their selection process, their notification letters, their layoff meetings, and everything in between.
One of the most important parts of this process is the meeting.
A layoff meeting typically occurs after a layoff letter has been sent out. However, unlike the letter, which you can learn more about here, the meeting is more personal and detail-oriented.
During this meeting, the HR leader (or manager, depending on how your organization operates) has to fully break the news that the person is being let go. They have to allow the employee to speak their mind (within reason) and explain all of the benefits being extended to the employee.
Side Note: There are also numerous laws and legal concerns that go into what is said in these meetings. So, please, work closely with your legal counsel during any layoff or RIF process.
The benefits part of meeting is where you can hopefully put the employees mind at ease by explaining to them how their severance package works.
By going through and showing them that they will have a support system to land a new job, some of their worries will ease up. We also recommend, if necessary, that you have staff from your outplacement provider on site to quickly and accurately enroll staff members to get started searching for their next job ASAP.
The Key Takeaways
We’ve covered quite a bit here today. The major points, though, are that layoffs are stressful for everyone involved, including the HR leader that has to implement the business move.
The good news is that with proper planning and a well-rounded severance package that offers outplacement, some of the emotions can be put to rest. By offering outplacement, specifically, you show the person that you do care about their future. The service will also help them move on to their new role as quickly as possible, negating possible backlash that can occur later on.
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