When Layoffs Go Wrong: How to Avoid Backlash and be Human
By: Andrea Guendelman and Bryan Landers
As the job market gyrates, tech companies face the daunting prospect of downsizing their workforce. The approach they take in this unpleasant task can have far-reaching consequences for them regarding employer brand and talent relations that extend well past the next business cycle.
The speed and transparency of data on social networks and media don’t forgive. Case in point, Carvana was recently slammed in the press after several employees shared their experience with being laid off in mass.
The “tough guy” strategy—involving mass layoffs, sometimes conducted over Zoom—may immediately benefit the bottom line. But it may also devastate the company’s long-term reputation in the talent marketplace.
How might you avoid this kind of negative reaction and backlash that hit Carvana and others? There are 2 pieces of the puzzle: the severance package and your employee communications. Typical severance packages include between X-Y weeks of salary. Some employers offer other key benefits, such as transitional services and skills training, which can help support talent, both those departing as well as those remaining at the company.
Once you’ve landed on the optimal severance offering, it’s all about the employee experience.
At my company, Speak_, we leverage cohort-based learning to train talent. We primarily work with candidates to prepare for interviews, but we see a huge opportunity to bring the support and power of community to the offboarding process.
Imagine a 2-4-week program where departing employees join their peers in a cohort with the shared goal of transitioning into a new role at a new company. Career coaches facilitate group calls, the curriculum helps people learn tools and processes for managing their transition, and peers pair up to have candid conversations about the struggles they face ad individuals.
Many companies have long taken a different approach, offering some package of severance benefits. Some key benefits such as transitional services and skills training benefit both worker and company.
Speak_ provides companies with a high-value training solution for transitional services and skills training that leverages cohort-based learning.
How cohort-based learning and skills training benefits workers
Our online learning platform uses cohort-based learning: “classes” of individuals move through our online program as in a university environment. Research shows this facilitates better learning by creating community and providing social reinforcement. A sense of community proves particularly important for individuals undergoing the disorienting experience of being laid off.
Speak_’s program has a proven track record.
How the Speak_ solution benefits companies
Putting laid-off workers into an effective career coaching and retraining program yields multiple benefits for a company, including signaling to remaining employees of the company’s values and even fostering an “alumni network” for the company.
This training program can be repurposed later by the company for in-house training of its workforce, for evaluating job candidates, and ensuring they have skills to contribute to the company when hired.
Moreover, this investment in training underscores the company’s belief in its long-term prospects.
As always, thanks for reading.
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