As companies emerge from the impact of COVID-19 and transition to the new normal, they are making difficult choices about their workforce that reflect economic reality.
Prompt and effective communication is the first step toward properly supporting employees during workforce transition--notifying them about downsizing, how it affects them, and how they can move forward in the future.
Preparation for delivering the news
A successful notification meeting depends upon managers being prepared and ready to deliver the right message at the right time, and, as a result, the employee begins to focus on moving forward. It is critical that there is a well-prepared script of the rationale to reinforce the decision that includes the right tone, style and is a reflection of company culture. The notified employee needs a clear understanding of the situation, as well as solid advice and clear direction on how to use the available resources to find a new position. A designated person may deliver information on the separation package or introduce the HR professional who will share that information with the employee.
Creating the appropriate tone and space
No one likes to deliver or receive unwelcome news but identifying an appropriate time and space will allow everyone to work through emotions and next steps. The notification meeting should be held in a private location. It is important that a meeting agenda is shared among those delivering the news, the HR professionals and consultants to manage the process effectively. It’s also important to plan for notification of remaining employees and how they will learn of the recent separations is an important component.
Taking the next steps
For the separating employee, it’s important they know how their responsibilities will be transitioned, what any remaining time at the company will mean, and how the company will best support them in the time of transition. This will include communication of any separation package, training for employees taking over responsibilities, and further outplacement support for the employee to help start the next chapter in their careers.
For businesses, changing the capacity of their workforce is always a difficult transition, whether that means scaling up or down. In both cases, preparation, training and communication is key. Being clear and direct yet communicating compassion and respect will help in the long run. For companies, willingness to help during the transition can go a long way towards minimizing the hurt of separation and help everyone get back onto the path toward recovery and growth.