Lay-offs are hard, but they don’t have to burn bridges

by Nov 17, 2020

During these COVID-19 times, businesses have experienced more financial strain than ever. Millions of Americans are still unemployed. LinkedIn is still flooded with #openforwork profile photos. And if you’ve had to let some valued employees go, we understand that it isn’t an easy or enviable task.

Here at Sonic Boom, we’ve been fortunate to avoid this reality in our office, but we want to help others to gracefully break the news when they need to. Employee wellness and empathy do not have to stop after that dreaded HR phone call. But unfortunately many employees are left with little to no support following their termination. This can lead to poor Glassdoor reviews, burned bridges, or just plain bad energy in the office air once news spreads.

Instead of making the call and moving on to the next task, consider going the extra mile to set them up for future success. Remember: You’re laying off a human being before an employee. Here are some ways to make one of the hardest parts of this pandemic easier on you, your team, and the other human beings you work with:

  1. Review your post-employment plan. What benefits do you offer to terminated employees? Things like severance pay or placement agencies are good places to start.
  2. Offer support. Reassure them that they have your full support through the process. Offer to write them a recommendation. Connect on LinkedIn.
  3. Be transparent. Not every detail of business restructuring can always be disclosed. However, if the decision was not based on job performance, share that with your employee.
  4. Allow them to take some time off. Getting laid off is not easy. Let them take a couple of days to absorb the news before finishing their time with the company.
  5. Extend health benefits as long as possible. If you can offer health insurance beyond their final day, do it. If the company can match 401K contributions for an extra month, do it.
  6. Remember the pandemic. This is an extremely stressful time to lose your job. Keep that in mind when delivering the news. Express sympathy for the current climate in your voice.

At the end of the day, we’re all doing our best to navigate things not only at work, but also in our daily lives. Give yourself a break if you do have to deliver bad news, and remember that your professional relationship doesn’t have to end on their final day.