May 06, 2008

Six Ways for HR to Prepare for a Layoff

No doubt in response to a sluggish economy, a recent CNN article advises employees facing layoff on how to protect themselves. I appreciate the need for employees to take these steps, but I also think it's an opportunity for HR and other company representatives to show that your interests aren't always so different, either. So here's a summary of advice given by the article, as well as some advice to the employer: 1. Get organized. Employees are advised to print and take home personal files, review project files and update resumes, and think about what to do next and who to use as a reference. Employer advice: Give employees adequate time to go through their desks, files, and projects to put everything in order, but remind them of their obligation to return and not improperly use company property. Make sure everyone knows company policy on referrals, if there is a policy. 2. Get what's coming to you. Get dental and medical checkups; make sure you get any vacation or holiday pay you're owed. Employer advice: Know and comply with your state's rules about paying vacation or personal time. Many states require employers to pay for time already accrued. Also follow any company policy that states these will be paid. Finally, make sure you comply with requirements to notify employees of entitlement to continuing insurance coverage. 3. Get connected. Network. Talk to friends, former coworkers, and clients; attend professional association meetings; and talk to recruiters. Employer advice: Provide information and access to job search resources (resume writing workshops, career fairs and centers, etc.) in the area. Remind employees of any legally valid non-solicitation or non-compete agreements. 4. Get searching. Visit online professional organizations or companies where you'd like to work; look at online job postings. Employer advice: Compile a list of possible job-hunting websites or online resources to help employees jump start their search. 5. Get an exit strategy. Review company policy on severance; review agreements with legal and financial advisors. Employer advice: Prepare to deal with confused, frustrated, or saddened employees. Honor any promises of severance pay or other benefits. Show departing employees compassion, respond promptly to inquiries about what will happen next, and take any requests for flexibility or negotiation seriously. Allow employees adequate time to review any proposed arrangements or to meet with professionals. 6. Get fired up. Stay positive. Employer advice: Where appropriate, be sure to express your gratitude for an employee's past good work. Wish the employee well in future endeavors.

For more information on what managers should do before, during, and after a layoff, see Nolo's article How to Conduct a Layoff.

Alayna Schroeder