How to Communicate About Layoffs
By Julie Fanelli, Director of People and Culture at LeagueApps
Communicate with compassion
You’ve considered your customers and your business. Now is the time to focus on the employee that’s being let go. Make sure that the employee is the first to know (outside of the individuals working on the layoffs). Think about it this way: how would you want the situation handled if it was your parent or child in the situation?
Tell the rest of your team quickly
Once you have communicated the layoff to the individual(s) the next most important communication is the one you will have with your remaining team members. Once word gets out, individuals will start to wonder if they are next. Get out in front of the panic before that happens. Bring remaining team members together during or immediately following the layoff. You can and should communicate only the information that can be shared. Do not share anything specific to the individual that would be considered confidential or illegal. Here are some examples of what you can and cannot share more broadly:
What you can talk about:
- Be true to your values and mission. If your mission is to provide good sports experiences for kids, your goal has to be to stay in business to drive that mission. Tell that story in a way that is genuine to the culture you’ve created within your organization.
- The general reason the company is conducting layoffs
- What measures you took to prevent the layoffs (ie. “We tried to apply for loans through the CARES Act, we moved some people to part time to conserve budget, etc)
- What general actions you’ve taken to help the impacted individual transition out (ie. “We provided them with a severance package, we’re writing them reference letters, we’re trying to help them find work)
What you should avoid talking about:
- Any specific reasons the individual may have been chosen or other specific criteria you used to decide who to lay off (this is especially important if you kept on some members of your staff or some of your coaches)
- You can use performance as a criteria for layoff. You just cannot share that information publicly.
- Any specific details regarding the dollar amount or duration of a severance agreement. This is confidential information to be treated the same way you treat individuals’ compensation.
Finally, remember not to make promises you can’t keep. If you know you may need to do another round of layoffs, don’t give your staff and coaches false hope. Managing expectations openly and honestly is the most important thing you can do.