Reductions in force, also known as layoffs or RIFs, are an unfortunate, and at times unavoidable, cost of doing business. When a company decides to eliminate a product or cancel a service or is losing money, part of the solution might include reducing headcount.
Reductions are seldom a happy event, though occasionally they are welcomed by one or two people who were already planning to transition. How a company treats people and communicates during turbulent times is an important reflection of its culture and values.
If you are facing a reduction, what can you do as a leader to demonstrate a high degree of respect and empathy for your team?
Layoffs that leave the worst scars are those that are frequent and unpredictable. Employees described one local company with repeated layoffs as a place where “the blood on the hatchet never dries.” That is not the reputation you want. If you must reduce headcount, leaders should spend ample time discussing the reasons for the change and then carefully evaluate who will be affected.
Write out a business justification with answers to these questions, and review it with your human resources and legal teams:
• What business change is making a layoff necessary?
• Which role(s) will no longer be needed in the near future and long term?
• Are there upcoming needs or open roles that people can transfer into?
It’s always better to hold
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