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Optimum Talks Blog

Virtual Layoffs in Times of Crisis – Optimum Talent’s Tips

by Optimum Talent
March 19, 2020

COVID-19 is, unfortunately, a virus that will go down in history. Its impact reaches beyond individual health; meaning it affects society as a whole, sometimes forcing organizations to close their doors indefinitely. It is changing how we work and making remote work a staple for the economy. In addition to this, the stock market sector heralds a difficult recession to follow. The corona-virus will have wreaked havoc at all levels on a global scale.

The Human Resources sector has been severely affected by this pandemic crisis. The sector’s current focus is on employees and teams who need support, both to cope with individual stress and organizational stress. Unfortunately, the economic downturn will force some companies to dispose of certain talents, either temporarily or permanently.

In the age of the pandemic, how can we virtually carry out layoffs while also ensuring an approach that respects human dignity despite the social distance imposed on us?

Here are our virtuous tips for layoffs in virtual mode:

Before the Call

  • Book at least one hour to give the person time to process, and so you don’t appear rushed
  • Get a sense of the individuals working and living situations in advance (i.e. do they share a home office with their partner, are their children often in the same room, etc.)
  • If possible, use video conference over regular phone calls
  • Test technology before the call
  • Practice your script and stick to the message. When using technology remember it may take longer because it is hard to read body language
  • Ensure all documentation is prepared, checked for errors, and ready to send immediately following the conversation

During + After the Call

  • Dress appropriately for the call. It is recommended that you match the style used in your normal work environment
  • Check your lighting to ensure that the individual can see your face and eyes clearly
  • Conduct the call in a quiet and private room
  • Turn off any distractions including email notifications and your cell phone
  • Mute phone when not speaking
  • Allow for silence as the person is processing the information don’t try to fill in the gaps
  • Allow for an array of emotions; tears, anger, shock
  • Be empathetic
  • Use a neutral tone, and speak slowly
  • Everyone is different, so be sensitive to their needs
  • Allow time after the call to gather your emotions


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