Thursday, July 9, 2009

How NOT to Layoff Employees

Lay-offs, down-sizing, plant relocation, right-sizing, job cuts -- whatever you call it and for whatever reason you do it, putting people out of work is a nasty, painful experience.

It doesn't have to be that bad.

However, the Chicago Public School system made it that bad and it shouldn't have been.

In mid June a story leaked to the Chicago media that there would be lay-offs in the Central Office. That was how employees learned their jobs were in jeopardy. After the media reports, department managers sent out e-mails to their subordinates saying they didn't know how "budget concerns" would impact their department and employees were advised in that e-mail they would be "told" as soon as there was more information.

A few weeks later, the "further information" was delivered in one-on-one meetings in which department heads read a script basically saying, "so long, don't let the door hit you in the rear on your way out."

By July 2, 557 employees of the Chicago school system had been shown the door, for a savings of about $100-million. More lay-offs are rumored. Morale is in the toilet and productivity by remaining employees has taken a nose dive.

Carelessness is how employees hear about job cuts from the media. Poor planning, or a lack of planning creates a long-term problem whether it is a lay-off of a handful of employees or of hundreds.

There are a number of steps we recommend in preparing for a lay-off.

And you have to consider NOT ONLY those who are leaving, but you have to plan for those who will be keeping their jobs. They need counseling and reassurance, or at least compassion and honesty as they cope with the loss of co-worker friends and the bitterness that often comes from being told they are going to have to pick up the slack and "do more with less."


1 comment:

  1. I've been laid off twice during my career and have watched others clean out their desks following layoffs many times. When I was the one out of work, I couldn't feel sorry for myself very long; I had to get busy. But those times when my job was spared, I felt so bad for my friends who weren't so lucky, and I couldn't help wondering if my turn would come in the next round. I agree that organizations need to be sensitive to the feelings and concerns of remaining employees. They may feel relieved, but there are some negative emotions to affect productivity as well.