Layoffs are always a difficult thing to do. And for a business they present a unique set of problems, beginning with how you as an employer can carry them out in a caring and compassionate manner, respecting the dignity of everyone involved.
To handle layoffs in an empathetic way, you should let all the employees know what kinds of problems the business is having that may necessitate layoffs, and you should let them know as soon as you think layoffs might be needed. This will help in creating an environment of trust with employees.
You also want to examine any other options open to you as an employer to cut costs and improve efficiency without resorting to layoffs, and let your employees know that you are examining these options, so that they will see you are doing all you can to prevent or minimize the layoffs. Other alternatives to layoffs include taking an unpaid day off every few weeks, cutting out part-time or temporary employees, reducing salary a few percent, and more. There are many options, and you should discuss them with your employees.
You also want to check with an employment law attorney, one who has experience dealing with layoffs, especially if this is the first time as an employer that you are dealing with this issue. He can help to ensure that all of the actions taken are legal, ethical and even-handed toward employees.
You also have to be careful that you are not violating any discrimination guidelines when you do layoffs. You may need to look at the procedures your company used in the past for layoffs, and that the criteria for layoffs are applied equally to everyone.
When it becomes apparent the layoffs will be needed, don’t put them off. Make the proper preparations, and then carry them out with due deliberation. Dragging things out will not help matters at all.
Depending on what you can afford, any support services for laid off employees would also be greatly appreciated by them – a generous severance package and/or outplacement services, for example.