Layoffs are often painful. They’re painful for affected employees and painful for managers to announce. Further pain is driven by the surprising amount of time an average worker remains unemployed. After six months of joblessness, economists define workers as long-term unemployed. In July 2021, the average length of unemployment was nearly seven months. With new unemployment insurance policies and shifts in the labor market, it’s hard to say how long many job seekers will be looking for work, but we do know jobs are available. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data published on August 9, 2021 tells us that in June 2021 there were 6.7 million hires during the month and 10.1 million job openings at month’s end.
Proactive employers can impact the outcome for their laid off employees with a combination of planning, partnering, services, and thoughtful transitions. Here are five practical strategies that employers have leveraged to lessen the impact of their layoffs:
- Providing Notice – In some cases involving sensitive information or business operations, it’s critical to announce a layoff and remove affected employees immediately to avoid the risk of employees damaging employer property or relationships. However, in many cases, giving an employee a week or more notice poses a low risk and can allow for not only a smooth transition for those picking up any work needing reassignment, but also allows an employee to begin their job search. Studies show that employees looking for work while employed fare better than those who are unemployed.
- Being Intentional About Internal Transfers – For larger organizations, an intentional focus on internal transfer opportunities should begin as soon as possible with an impending layoff. Once the layoff is made, it’s key to continue to provide internal references and connections to find any openings that may fit, whether posted or soon to be posted. Rehiring employees with company history who’ve been vetted can be a great asset in addition to a great way to reduce the negative impacts of a layoff.
- Providing Proactive References – Typically, prudent HR advisors suggest a “name, rank, and serial number” reference approach for employees who were terminated, especially if the cause was controversial. Most laid off employees, especially in the wake of COVID-19, leave on good terms and their cause of separation will be a simple lack of work. In these cases, promptly and proactively putting together a reference letter and/or LinkedIn endorsement will not only reassure laid off employees of their value at a time when their confidence may be low (potentially slowing their job search) and can help smooth the hiring process for a prospective new employer.
- Using Proactive Outplacement – Outplacement or reemployment services can help employees look forward and land their next job instead of looking back and making claims against their last employer. Using an outplacement firm can make a huge difference in how long it takes an employee to find that next job. Members of the 501(c) Agencies Trust have free access to outplacement services through our partners at NextJob. Not only can using an outplacement service help the separated employee, but it can save reimbursing nonprofits money on UI claims, and it can demonstrate that the organization cares about its people, even during a challenging situation.
- Communicating Layoffs with Sensitivity – Managers who have training in how to sensitively but firmly announce layoffs can dampen the initial shock of the layoff as well as give appropriate hope for employees. For employers offering outplacement, it can be helpful to make employees aware of the benefit at time of the layoff announcement – explaining both the benefit as well as the ability to increase the odds of landing a job by 60% by embracing best practices in job search.
501 offers members complimentary reemployment coaching packages, through NextJob, to help your laid off employees land jobs much more quickly. Contact us for more information on job search packages.