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Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

Posted August 16, 2009 7:23 AM

Nobody likes workforce reductions, but in today's economic climate with companies struggling to survive, they are inevitable. So what is the best way for a company to announce that employees are going to be terminated? How should the layoff procedure be conducted? Should workers be given advance warning? Should management tell all the employees who are being let go at the same time? Should employees be given an explanation? Is there a 'less painful' way to do it?

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#1

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 7:51 AM

Do it with professionalism, respect and keep it short and direct ...DO NOT PATRONIZE

phoenix911

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#28
In reply to #1

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 10:56 PM

GA Phoenix. Layoff is an economic death sentence for most folks.Should only be used as last resort.

milo

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#29
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/18/2009 5:55 AM

Interesting, when I had my business and had to do lay-offs after the current month is over, I had a company meeting to inform the shop (fabrication and welders) if business did not pick-up and presented this issue the company was in. 100% had feed back on the best ways, rotating weekly lay-offs. no one was laid off more than a week.

And the laid off workers would come in at times to check, some even offered to pick up a broom or something, usually just talk, whats in the pipeline for work. they were chopping at the bit. lasted about 30 days. That made me feel good, and more the reason I wanted to retain them.

So there are two different types of lay-off.

1.) you don't work out or are a fit at this company (permenant)

and 2.) the temporary lay-offs (they be back)

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/18/2009 9:49 AM

I would work for you.

milo

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#31
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/18/2009 10:03 AM

no you would'nt......at this time I'm looking for work.

Thanks.

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#2

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 10:03 AM

Nice or not shouldn't be a question when it comes to something as serious as a layoff.

A career effects the whole family and can potentially be as serious as when the doctors told my wife and I that our youngest child had "probable non-life threatening" leukemia. He would most likely be OK but it was still a kick in the gut for everyone - that took years to recover from - but we all did and he's fine. My point is a layoff is a unique situation that calls for the up most in professionalism from all parties involved. A layoff my mean having to move kids to another state or country or saying goodbye to a girlfriend that may have been your future wife.

Last week I saw a good engineer get laid off where I work that I had previously seen get laid off at a local plant that closed down about 6 years ago. I'm sure he's out of here........then there is the guy we hired less than a year ago that relocated here from out of state, and I know he has kids.

As bad as this sounds......another thing that should not come into the mix is being fair. This is competition where smart/tough business decisions need to be made. You shouldn't layoff 30 people by arbitrarily taking 5 from every department. Do it on a case by case business review similar to financial justification on capital projects. If someone isn't needed there just not needed and it is excess but also factor in how hard they will be to replace when the cyclical economy goes the other way.

Common sence to me is cut from the bottom and the top where they either don't posess as much experience and skill or in the top end where they don't actually do anything.

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#3

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 10:31 AM

The questions about advanced warnings, and explanations are a case by case problem to be handled by management. The one ugly scenario I had to deal with many years back brings my only suggestion. Do all layoffs before noon. (I am assuming that this is not shift work.) This will give the shell shocked or elated former employee time to clean up, clear out, recover and/or party before arriving home at the normal hour. It will also give management time to explain to the remaining staff how existing projects should proceed without the former employees.

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#4

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 11:31 AM

A layoff is always accompanied by hard feelings despite the need for the layoff. There will always be the individual who is resentful because he sees other co-workers who don't perform as well as he does and they retain their jobs. He sees favoritism for certain workers by the boss. He sees workers who play golf with the boss after hours and keep their job. I have seen it many times. I was laid off from my last job at 68. I was a good worker, worked hard and contributed my skills to the job. Maybe I was too old and making too much money.

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#5
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 11:57 AM

Morning ronseto,

I was 46 when I was first laid off. At the time, I enjoyed my job but I did not agree with the company policy and was searching prior to being laid off. You get that feeling.

And recently, I was put in a position that I was laid off (as well as a high percentage of other employees the company) and the company retain the engineer (wannabe) who openly admitted and demonstrated he knew nothing about engineering.

Hard feelings,....yes, but mostly shock. But some of it was due to me, play the hand thats dealt to you and go on. But do not compromise your integrity in doing so.

phoenix911

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#6
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 2:42 PM

I've often wondered how I might handle that situation myself due to the fact that I'll probably never be able to retire with social security ceasing to exist in 20ish years and my 401K taking a nose dive. At some point the veteran work force gives minimum work for maximum pay unless you have been able to become a supervisor or manager and have also kept up with technology. My guess was that I may have to negotiate less pay and vacation time to keep my job. That's one of the main reasons I got out of construction and took CAD and CNC programming. Construction was great but it's a young mans game. I feel that when I can't move a mouse around or forget how to use a calculator I'll rent bicycles at the beach......or work in accounting.

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#7

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/16/2009 8:25 PM

Layoffs of critical engineering or scientific personnel can be handled with a bit of "class" if the supervisor(s) to whom the individuals report actually care about the people working for them. I had the unfortunate situation where I found out that my closest friend (who took a position working as the Research Manager of an un-named chemical company) was not told when he hired in that his Research department was going to be eliminated 6 months hence. I had found this out through contacts at another chemical company. Once he verified my message, he let the workers under his charge know what was happening ASAP and began making contacts (for these employees) at other companies that were hiring and where these employees would be highly qualified. He worked tirelessly to provide assistance to get opportunities for his employees. He himself did not take another position until all his employees had alternative employment opportunities in hand. Perhaps that is why I am honored to consider him as my friend.

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#8
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 1:35 AM

GA...Honor does yet have high regard otherwise integrity maybe questioned.

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#9

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 3:56 AM

Well I would do it this way, in a nice low voice: "As off tomorrow morning it will be extremely difficult without you."

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#10
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 5:51 AM

Or....as the he clocks in for work in the morning, his ID badge no longer works..............

For some reason I get the feeling that this may have happened.

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#11
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 6:49 AM

musical chairs or trial by combat, as Catbert, the evil director of HR suggests

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#12
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 7:00 AM

How about survivor, like the ThunderDome one on Mad Max (2) walk in (1) walk out. And for a bonus, it could be televised.

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#13

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 7:16 AM

How bout We no longer require your services, and receive a 1 year severance with health benefits. Make it short & sweet! it's the package that matters the most. but most packages are . Don't let the door hit you in the a""!

Jim C

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#14
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 7:20 AM

Layoffs are to avoid bankruptices....severence and with health benefits....now that is funny.

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#17
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 10:33 AM

I thought it was funny myself, but it clearly depends on how high on the ladder you are, it seems the higher you are more you are rewarded, Just look at the EXE's who made thier compaines loose billions, Walk away with multi million dollar packages, laughing all the way to the bank.

Jim C

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#18
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 10:46 AM

I was surprised a med sized company next to mine of about 50 employees laid off thier mid manager and gave him severance....I was surprised

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#20
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 11:47 AM

I have replied to your post though am not targeting you with this retort; no offense intended, it is of the nature of such attitudes allowing less than honorable conduct towards those of less estate we should rise above.

You were surprised they acted with integrity; shame, shame irresponsibility is esteemed I suppose.

Irresponsible thug; Ebeneezer type...no thought for other than one's self...shame, shame, shame.

It is acceptable among the unscrupulous to toss people about not unlike a used napkin.

Oh ya you may well consider me a doting old minded coot but actions among freemen have never ever been acceptable if integrity were not observed. Ya you may say "that's the way it is", rubbish; it is what we make it.

I have experience on both sides of this subject and it is those irresponsible in business which do use others to advantage in ways which may be determined as that of a sociopath in other venues.

Responsibility is not lost upon the associate or employee either, to read writing on wall etc. and not over extend oneself.

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#24
In reply to #20

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 5:56 PM

ok....now for the rest of the story.......the mid manager that was laid off handled the companies IT which was wireless, and also the software installations and upgrades. Less than a week after he was laid off, he tried to break into their wireless network, Logged in a number of times, even had a back door set up. fortunately, one of the fabricators who was training for IT at this company, had recognized what he was doing, and had changed access key code.

So..., the president was so pissed that Monday morning as was briefed on what had happened that weekend, he suspended the severance till an investigation on what happened.

A short time later this company got a letter from a company that handles pirated software for a number of software developers, Microsoft, Autodesk, Adobe, ect......, and a certified letter was sent that stated they received a tip that they had illegal and was using pirated software, and if they did not run a program to find out what legitimate software was installed, legal action would proceed. they would pay a very large fine. it was in the hundreds of thousands.

Well, allot of software, that the company purchased, was illegal and was very much embedded in on company operations. They wanted, and had thought they were doing things right believed legitimate licenses purchased. No their IT guy (you know the one that got laid off, the old napkin you called him I believe), had set up a company that sold them the pirated software, at a cost of legitimate ones.

Well the fines were dropped to a reasonable amount...eventually.

I was informed of this because I currently was helping with their engineering, and initially asked this IT about the software, and was basically snubbed. I mentioned it casually to the president, The president was going to look into it, (for which I was doing him the favor), and said maybe I overstepped my grounds I took it as that, well it was none of my business. I then looked into my software, and found out my engineer had pirated software on his terminal and was integrating it into my company.

And you call me what? If you were a manager not only would you bankrupt a company, because you would keep these so called old napkins working, but you would not be smart enough to realize these napkins were dirty.

Nope a manager you are not......neither someone to pick up garbage because that is honorable work

Yes I was surprised they gave severance, the norm in our area, was that was only reserved for high level management in 50+ million a year companies. But I had my suspicions about him.

bwire, I came in with integrity and I leave with integrity, and you.

But I have been doing this for a while, and it does take a toll on me because integrity is more than a word for me.

I believed you filled in the blanks too soon, didn't you......there is more, but the waters get dirtier before it clears.

phoenix911

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#25
In reply to #20

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 6:26 PM

bwire, too late to append, I looked at the beginning that it was not directed to me.

But you still have to realize there is always more to an issue that meets the eye.

There could have been dirt on both sides. But what I have seen, once you start playing dirty, its hard to get clean, and that is why, I try to cut it at the root in the beginning.

And epecially do not let emotion rule. This incident is a done deal, I knew what was involved.

And I have zero tolerance for thieves, for I have paid the price for them in the past. And the toll is it wears on my patience as I age.

I have fired people and have them shadowed if not by myself by a another employee off the premises, there are reasons for this,

I would not call it indignity, I call it business, for the thief steals from my table as well as all others.

phoenix911

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#26
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 8:20 PM

A truly sad ugly story phoenix911. I am glad to hear that you kept your integrity through that. The odd thing, unless criminal charges were brought against this soiled napkin the company may have been required to pay the severance package.

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#27
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 10:03 PM

Sad, no and I'll tell you why.

The president of the company was shocked he made a decision to withhold severance out of emotion, their attorney told him you will still have to pay severance. and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (WDWD) would back that up.

On a different matter I have found out personally that (WDWD) will back up employees that commit fraud. after (2) years dealing with the WDWD and threats to pay them immediately, that they are turning it over to the District Attorney (DA) and when that happens I could pay double, I told him to it go ahead and do it. At least I have a chance with the DA.

After which the Assistant DA told me to do what the WDWD suggest and then take the employee to court handle it as a different case, I told her that bastard used the WDWD to put me through hell for two years, I told her hell no, her reply, she said she can not under good conscience go through with it and threw the case out. (she I believe broke the law) and also the actual DA would not take the case. (it made stain his future)

I treat all employees with what they deserve, Most with respect, the rest few otherwise.

And the title; Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

well, I'll respect the solid employee, the lay-off may be due to; not the fit for the company, or hard times or whatever. Treat them right.

But when I listen to bleeding hearts say to treat all employees as though they are cherish resources, and managers are out of touch, they sure as hell have better know all the bull$#it. More times than not, they are clueless and that not all employees are worth it.

And these criminals, I have no patience with, nor will I ever defend them.

Interesting when you walk in a another mans shoes.

This can be a whole other thread, especially the criminal aspect..

And integity....well, it comes at a price. People who actually have it, knows that price.

phoenix911

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#35
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 1:43 AM

Aw shucks I too have fired an tossed a cretin or two. It is that I greatly value resources as the assets to fruition of the planned exercises.

Yes you were correct, my statement does not fit this scenario though I was describing in a general sense.

Have a peaceful day

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#37
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 7:44 AM

And with your history what I have seen here on this site from you.

I realized that, thats why I wish I could have caught it and appended. Because you touch off something, that actually was with the scenio, I am glad you posted. because there are issues when it comes to this type of decisions.

And on a blog, I do have more of an edge.

and right back at you.

phoenix911

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#15

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 8:40 AM

I think that most employees can see it coming. The news is all ways bringer of bad tidings. The amount of work decreases. So the employee would have to be very out of touch not to see it coming. So to the explanation why is not necessary. The criteria in which the employee was laid off yes.

The management here choice was tardiness and /or missed time. They cut work force in steps as work decreased. They all so in the process reduced salaries of upper management.

I do not think that there is a less painful way to do this. It is painful anyway that its done. Not only to the employee but to management. Some companies work hard to build a good work force. To see that being torn apart by the economic down turn and have to start over in the after math.

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#16
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 9:46 AM

There is an opening for you, please close it when you leave...

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 11:39 AM

You must be management and one of the type that don't care about anything but his own hide. Pity those that work for you.

As far as an opening its always been there. I have had no problem finding it in the past. Or one to open before me as I close the one behind.

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#21

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 3:17 PM

Careful when you give any notice , in my experience , people tend to get hurt and you end up paying for a long time .

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#22

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 3:22 PM

This reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon from the mid-90s. Picture this:

The pointy-haired boss is telling Dilbert, Alice, and an unknown employee, "The layoffs will be held in the most humane way possible."

Offscreen, a POP and a needle SHTKs into the unknown guy.

Dilbert asks, How long does the tranquilizer last?"

The boss replies, "He'll wake up at the unemployment office."

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#34
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Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 1:27 AM

a variation of the velvet hammer I suppose

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#23

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/17/2009 4:38 PM

With a few lap dances and a few beers.

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#32

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/18/2009 7:07 PM
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#33

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/18/2009 9:15 PM

I have rarely been "fired", and actually rarely been laid off.

"I was looking for a job, when I found this one." was for much of my life the way I saw things, and when mistreated I just moved on.

Damn I got married and had a child, and I had to keep my head down and mouth shut a bit more than prior.

Of course we all know that the answer for the good workers, is: "Hey our competition is beating us, so since they have all the business, you get to work for them now! We set it all up!"

I think I did fire a guy for suggesting that to get a job we steal from a non profit to both compete with my business, and other legitimate businesses that I competed with.

I myself got fired one time for suggesting I wouldn't bring along a guy for the job, if they didn't bring along one of their crew.

One time I got fired because I refused to fire one of my crew.

Most of the time the employees are honest hard working individuals and there are market forces at work that are out of both their control, or the control of the managers of the company.

It is not in the interest of the company to get these great people jobs at the competition that is already beating them. Therefore they are obligated to make those laid off look bad.

Often those who are the picks to be laid off, have ideas and threaten the positions of management and the executives who wouldn't know a good idea from an upside down penny.

I would suggest that if the executives and management of a company see difficult times ahead, they might consider turning the company upside down now and then.

In other words give the lowest man the highest job for a day, and the highest man the lowest job for a day, and see how things went.

Would be interesting to see who got fired...

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 7:37 AM

Interesting, .....fired....is the term that has not been used often enough.

.......and Thinking, I have never used that term, fired, or the term used on myself.

And few businesses used that. The only reason is to soften the blow.

I used the term I have to let you go, with an brief explanation, and I wasn't even required to do that (because Wisconsin is a Right to Work State). But I did have to let them know they would not be called back. (this the employer has to do, due for them for file and collect unemployment, if you are laid off with the knowledge of being hired back, you do not have to do a job search and can collect unemployment. if you are left go or fired and not returning, you have to do a active job search requirement).

But you did mention and I have to say, I was "left go because I did not make the fit with the company....so yes I was fired.........sematics maybe.

But I like to add, when I had left some people go. I liked to have said, "YOUR FIRED, and not only are you FIRED, your a good for nothing piece of $#it, A$$#ole, don't let the door hit your a$$ on your way out".

But I didn't. I treated them like I did the rest.

But like most people in that situation, there is enough stress on both sides. why make it rougher. And that is what the OP is all about.

Good to see that you are mature enough to take it......sometimes there is too much sensitivety in the workplace......or as your escorted from it.

GA anyways

phoenix911

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 9:17 PM

Thanks for your post.

I learned something that I may need to apply for legal problems.

Frankly I am not at all ashamed to say, "I was fired.", for I have done a lot of work and rarely been out.

-different states have different laws.

I wonder if in all states the difference between being "fired" and being "laid off" as you explained, is the same?

Truly if I would rather tell a potential employer that I was "Fired", instead of say something wimpy like "I was laid off." since the guy I might be attempting to get a job with would understand why someone of my caliber might be fired.

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#39
In reply to #38

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/19/2009 10:43 PM

In Wisconsin Its a Right to work state, You can fire someone immediately without a reason, just like an employee can quit without giving notice.

This being said, the state set up Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (WDWD) (for ronseto, ) assurances to protect the employee for workers rights, as well as for unemployment, training, and help. Pretty good program for the most part.

I dealt with all the people mentioned at the WDWD, also put a call to Wisconsin Senator Alan Lasee his staff got involved because he was on the some type of workforce development committee. Side note, he contacted WDWD, and WDWD had their secretary call up and apologize, gutless bastards. They do this because they do not have to be accountable.....its in their by-laws.

But there are employees that has ill will, and abuse the system and put a strain on the employer. Just by putting a claim against the employer. Even if the employee commits a crime, they (WDWD) will not recognize that,

An example, you have an employee that is substandard than the requirement, and this employee even mentions that he will go to the WDWD, and you fired that employee he can file a claim he was fired because of he threaten to file a claim with WDWD against you. And read that link (case) I supplied below. Its stiff.

And fraud forget it, as from an earlier post, thats why in Wisconsin "you lay people off, you don't fire them" its easier, because you may hurt their feelings. Also thats why a business can take out and should get insurance for such things like employee claims.

I am not going to get into the brotherhood of attorneys.

Another example is this case which I posted in response to a thread working with idiots, which I experience. I have to be careful, I got spanked for calling someone that recently just happened to be a guest, (pulling a Ben Franklin) but still an idiot.

And it does differ state to state.

aside from not so much the bad employees but the bad people....in Wisconsin it does work.

Oh, there is nothing wrong with getting fired, as long as it is a legitimate reason.....being you weren't a good fit there and such...because it does happen.

phoenix911

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#40
In reply to #39

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/20/2009 12:50 AM

Many good points in that vein but here is another side of the lay-off coin:

http://www.portfolio.com/resources/insight-center/2009/02/01/The-Hidden-Costs-of-Layoffs/

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

08/20/2009 1:34 AM

This is getting in depth, and the points of the hidden costs of layoff.

I like to think about the topic of good employee bolting even when they survive the cut that it may be due to other reasons such as employee confidence in management, or lack of.

Lay off suck for both, when I had to lay off, what I was leaning to is laying off the less experienced and inefficient workers, and keeping the more experiences, but higher paid ones, but I needed a mix of skills-sets as well as different levels. Then thinking of the ones I had in mind to lay-off, (put business aside and got personable with employee, but it paid off) just had a baby, one just bought a house, I did the best thing, about three weeks before, I had a company meeting still not sure what I was going to do but to inform the floor if things did improve, layoffs were coming. We talked, damed if they decided what was going to happen. They looked after each other and decided to rotate layoffs

There is a saying that I know alot of level minded people.......(skilled shop floor), And no matter how it looks, the grass isn't greener on the other side........they stay put. But I know of situations where they will and have left even when they have worked for a company for 20+ years, and even took a pay cut, the reason, Company insulted not so much their competence, but integrity.

Never thought there are three sides to a coin. But you touch on a point with that hidden cost, the employer obligations for having employees.....such as workmen's compensation insurance in case an employee gets hurt, unemployment insurances, this is what funds unemployment checks to the unemployed.

Payroll taxes, The employee only pays half the state tax, the employer pays the other half. employee's for the most part do not realize this.

This is the reason employment services helps the employer, they contract with the employment service and let the service take majority of the risks.

this is interesting stuff, that is to be a by-stander looking in, a pain to be a part of.

I wonder how many are watching this thread see what develops before pitching in?

phoenix911

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#42

Re: Is There a Nice Way to Conduct Layoffs?

02/13/2010 3:23 AM

Once we were working in a big room of engineers and drafters. After a big job went out for final issue, a manager came in and said: "Everyone on this side of the room is layed off, pack up and leave. Everyone on this side of the room can stay."

That was not the best way to do it.

Probably the best way is to wait until the beginning of a great economic depression when people can get unemployment benefits for 18 months, then lay people off. Kind of like what is going on right now, eh?

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