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an employee. Truth be told, you should worry in today’s legal environment. This is why, before you fire an employee, you should be able to justify it.
LAYING OFF EMPLOYEES
Layoffs are fundamentally different from firings because the employees who are terminated are generally not at direct fault. The real
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culprits are mostly external factors such as changes in markets, mergers and acquisitions, and the pressures of a more competitive global marketplace. These are employees who have done no wrong; these are employees who were simply in the right place at the wrong time.
The following steps will guide you through the layoff process:
Step 1: Determine the extent of the problem and figure out what departments will be affected. How much money are we talking? How long are the poor business conditions that led to this problem projected to last? Are there alternatives that will allow the company to take other cost-saving approaches and avoid a layoff?
Step 2: Freeze hiring. When preparing for a layoff, it’s important to quickly put a lid on discretionary spending. As hiring new employees is one of the most expensive sources of discretionary spending, it should be one of the first things stopped. If you do have to hire to staff essential positions (for example, front-line sales staff) which have become vacant, be sure to first consider previously laid-off employees before going outside the organization.
Step 3: Prepare tentative lists of employees to be laid off. Once you understand the extent of the problem and which departments will be affected, you’ll need to determine which employees to lay off. Consider which employees have the most skill and experience in the areas that the organization needs and which employees have the least. The first employees to go in a layoff are usually those employees whose skills and experience are not most essential, or those who have been most recently hired.
Step 4: Notify all employees of planned layoffs in advance. As soon as a layoff is certain, immediately inform your employees about it. Present the financial and other problems that your organization faces, and ask your employees for cost-cutting suggestions. In many
cases, employee cost-cutting suggestions have saved organizations enough money to postpone or even avert planned layoffs.
Step 5: Prepare a final list of employees to be laid off. The next step is to prepare a rank-ordered list of employees to be laid off. Some companies give preference to permanent employees over temporary ones and include seniority or performance in the formula for determining who will be laid off. If you don’t have a standard layoff policy, then consider your employees’ experience and how long they’ve been with the organization in determining who will have to go. Be particularly careful not to discriminate against protected workers—older employees, for example—who are good performers.
Step 6: Notify affected employees. By now, speculation is probably rampant about what employees will be let go and which will be invited to stay. As soon as your list is finalized, notify the affected employees. While actual terminations should always be conducted in private meetings, the initial notification of layoffs can be conducted effectively in group or company-wide meetings.
Step 7: Terminate. Conduct private, one-on-one termination meetings with employees to finalize the layoffs. Collect keys, identification badges, and any company-owned equipment and property and explain severance packages, continuation of benefits, and any other company-sponsored termination programs as appropriate. Finally, escort the laid off employees out of the facility (you can do this personally or have a security guard or human resources representative fill the role) and wish them well.
Step 8: Rally the “survivors.” No layoff is truly complete until you have an “all-hands” meeting to rally your remaining employees and to let them know that you are committed to avoiding future layoffs.
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THE REAL WORLD
There's a saying, "It never gets better than at the beginning," and sometimes, even the best of intentions will still fail. When this happens with an employee who is not working out, it is best to cut your losses early rather than to give that person an undue number of chances to redeem himself or herself. Be honest and fair, but remember that you don't owe a job to anyone. Just because employees are in positions in your firm does not make those positions theirs. If the person is not working out for you, inevitably the job is not working out for them, either, and although changing jobs can be traumatic for most employees, staying in one that is not working out is far worse.
Is it possible to terminate an employee in a respectful and humane
way? The quick answer is yes. Here are some ways to do just that: