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Major economic disruptions caused by the pandemic have forced many organizations to lay off (temporarily or permanently) a significant part of their workforce. Given the social distancing measures in place, the announcements of these layoffs are most often made remotely. When handled incorrectly, terminations can put the reputation of an organization at risk. And in the current climate, this holds more than ever as the relationship between employers and remaining employees are particularly tense and stressful.
In this context, organizations need to be extremely mindful to maintain their brand image. Questions that should be top of mind are, “How can they preserve the respect of employees who remain within the organization?” And, “What about the employees who leave involuntarily in a particularly difficult context?” Departures can lead to a climate of insecurity, demobilization, and even absenteeism within the organization. An important part of the answer lies in how employers deliver the news with efficiency, humanity, and empathy.
As mentioned in our previous post, the employer brand is based on an organization’s image among its employees and potential candidates and allows the organization to differentiate itself from its competitors as an employer of choice. It is the quality of the interactions between the employer and the employee, from the beginning to the end of the employment relationship. A good organization treats its employees well during their journey with the company, but employers of choice are the ones that treat them the same at the end (whether leaving voluntarily or involuntarily) as they did at the beginning. A bad exit is likely to generate negative feelings from the laid-off employee which is often shared with colleagues, friends, and family both in-person and online. Nourishing your employer brand through professional, respectful, and empathic actions during layoffs will help minimize the risk of damage to the organization’s reputation. This allows departing employees to leave feeling respected, recognized, and will help the employees who remain still feel motivated at work.
Here are some principles to ensure that the employee has a transparent, respectful, and fair procedure:
See our previous post Virtual Layoffs in Times of Crisis for our comprehensive guide.
Support is essential for both laid-off employees and those who continue to remain with the organization. For this group, support can be provided by offering tools to self-assess, upskill and reskill.
Here are some practical tips for inspiring and nurturing post-layoff management for the employer brand:
Exiting employees (temporary layoffs):