It's no surprise that the sudden job loss of thousands of employees from tech giants like Google, Amazon, IBM, Salesforce and others is causing shockwaves throughout the entire job market. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 100k temporary employees have lost their jobs during these massive lay-offs towards the first month of 2023.
A layoff may be a business decision for the company. But it's entirely personal and highly stressful to the laid-off individual. The sudden loss of employment brings a multitude of challenges, from financial difficulties to emotional distress. This makes it even more critical for organizations to manage the offboarding process with compassion and clarity.
A lazy layoff is when a company puts more thought and ‘people power’ behind the spreadsheets and modeling of the layoff, than the communication and support for managers delivering the message and employees receiving it.
There is no doubt that handling the offboarding of numerous employees at once is an operational nightmare. Particularly given the added strain on resources inherited by such a task. The biggest mistake organizations can make is treating the process like a transaction, instead of a personal communication with people.
Therefore, to avoid doing a lazy layoff, companies must involve all key departments such as HR, IT, Logistics and Finance, to create a robust roadmap and delegate the various tasks explicitly. And above all, prioritize the interpersonal communication with the laid-off employee.
Here's some best practices to avoid lazy layoffs:
The mass lay-offs that have become all too common this year, are the result of economic uncertainty and not the individuals' job performance. This needs to be extremely clear and transparent for those hearing the news. Once a company has made the decision to lay-off numererous employees, communication should be made well in advance. Employees should receive a communication from the CEO or from division leadership that informs them layoffs will occur and offers them the business reasons for the decision.
Employees need to feel respected and cared for despite the decision, and leave with a positive impression of the company. And that their investment has been valued and appreciated. When it's time to break the news to the individuals affected, this needs to be communicated personally. Employers should always aim to set up personal meetings for the affected employee with their manager and HR contact. Ideally the meeting should be face-to-face or done virtually.
Besides delivering the news with compassion, the meeting should also cover all key information such as severance, benefits, and outplacement services. Additional time for any questions also needs to be accounted for to give them opportunity to process and respond to the news. This does two things: firstly, it demonstrates that the company cares about the laid-off employee's personal situation; and secondly minimizes the risk of employees airing out their grievances publicly (however, this is an inherent part that will inevitably occur and can't be completely avoided, understandably).
Being laid off isn't easy. Which means companies are even more responsible to proactively mitigate the risks and make the process of offboarding employees as smooth and stress-free as possible. Not only for the benefit of the affected employee, but also for those facilitating the process. There are lots of moving parts involved, with key stakeholders within various departments such as HR, IT, Logistics and Finance.
When outlining the roadmap for offboarding numerous employees at once, it's crucial to involve all key stakeholders in the decision making. This ensures no rock goes unturned and a robust contingency plan is in place. Make the action points of each phase clear and well understood, and delegate key tasks appropriately per each team. Put in place regular meetings to track progress and discuss employee feedback or bottle necks.
One of the most challenging aspects of employee offboarding is knowing what to do with company equipment. Especially laptops that have a wealth of private company data. However, this process is far more complex in a remote and hybrid work environment. Before IT and HR can even begin to decide how to retrieve the equipment they first must know where the equipment is. And who has it for that matter?
This is where automation and inventory management tools such as Workwize make a major difference in productivity and accuracy. Whilst many companies believe they already have sufficient processes in place for equipment management, they are often manual and full of human error. Manually back-tracking who has what inventory in spreadsheets touched by numerous people ends up being painstakingly time-consuming. The other option is to not bother retrieving the company equipment, which isn't cost-effective nor good for the environment.
If your company doesn't already have an inventory management tool implemented, this process will likely highlight the productivity gaps in the offboarding process. If this is the case, it's important to use this time to document and align on how the company can improve next time and consider whether it's worth investing in a long-term inventory management tool.
Once you've figured out which equipment needs returning (and who has it), make it very clear how the return process works. For in-office employees, this can be relatively simple, however for remote workers, there's several more steps to consider. One option is to send an empty box with a return label to the employee's home address, so all they have to do is post in the mail. This may seem tedious, but the cost of not using well-maintained laptops amidst a volatile supply chain climate will have a lot more repercussions.
Alternatively, companies can use tools like Workwize which handles the retrieval and collection of all laptops. Workwize can even send and store laptops and equipment at their various warehouses - so companies have buffer stock on standby for the next new hire.
Learn more about the importance of having buffer stock in our blog - 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Procuring Hardware.
Facilitating mass-layoffs is incredibly challenging. Not just logistically, but emotionally as well. When developing and managing the process, companies must be human-centric. This means communicate, communicate, communicate. At its foundations, the offboarding process must aim to minimize the stress involved in an inherently stressful situation.
Automating equipment management is a crucial step towards long-term scalability and success in the business world. By using tools to streamline the equipment lifecycle management process, companies can greatly reduce the risk of human error and increase efficiency.
This leads to a more organized, productive and data-driven approach to inventory management. Investing in automation now can pay off greatly in the future, providing a solid foundation for continued growth and success. Plus, not only it improves the bottom line, but it also has a positive impact on employee wellbeing, freeing them up to focus on higher value tasks and reducing stress levels associated with manual processes.