The economic downturn has resulted in a number of companies being forced to use layoffs as a cost cutting measure. In a world where anyone has access to the internet and can publish negative feedback about their former employer, and does, how you manage this process is critical. It takes just a second after someone has walked out the door for them to post negatively on Twitter, facebook or their blog, and it spreads from there. This will have major impacts on employers for years to come. Blog posts, tweets and video content all remain in search engine caches for a very long time, if not forever!
Here are some tips to avoid these potential problems in a social media world:
1. Make sure you have a plan and that the plan ties directly to the overall business plan for the company. You don’t want to lay off the wrong set of people.
2. Remember the jobs you are cutting have people in them. Treat them with respect. This could be you one day and if you don’t do the lay off correctly, it probably will be you and soon.
3. Be open and fair from the start. People want to feel valued particularly in tough economic times.
4. Do it quickly. It only causes pain to the employee and the company to drag it out. It also provides more time for the former employee to publish negative articles or posts.
5. The employee reaction may not be rational or logical, based on information given to them. They will instead fit the layoff to their own experience or what they have read elsewhere. This usually means they will react poorly, initially. Providing the employee with additional support can also make the experience more positive.
6. Provide employees with some advice about being careful if venting online. The perspective can help avoid legal battles in the future.
7. Expect things to be blogged, tweeted, and generally discussed by current and former employees. Monitor the internet to see what is being said. Allow people to vent but if needed, gently correct the messages if they are blatantly wrong.
8. Communicate with the employees who are leaving as well as with those who are staying, but do so honestly and openly.
9. Setup an internal wiki to allow the people leaving to document their knowledge in a central location. This way you might collect some of the knowledge that is leaving before it leaves.
10. Communicate to your customers, suppliers, media, analysts and blogosphere what is going on and why.
11. Highlight the other cost cutting measures that the organization is taking to show layoffs are one of the last resorts.
12. Make sure you pay severance packages fairly and on time. If you fail to do this, you can guarantee that the company and you, personally, will have VERY negative press.
Most of these are common sense and you may already have done them. Good for you. If not, call us and we can help. We have experience in all of this.
Maver Management Group