Since layoffs and terminations happen in every industry, preparing for potential workforce changes is an important task for HR professionals. In CareerArc’s webinar, “3 Keys to Protecting Your Brand During Organizational Downsizing: Lessons from the Tech Industry,” CareerArc’s president of Career Transition Services Yair Riemer offers useful tips for safeguarding your brand reputation while navigating separation events, along with relevant examples from the tech industry. Read on for a recap of this informative webinar.
What’s at Stake: Your Employer Brand
An employer brand is important to protect in times of both boom and bust. This puts the onus on HR teams to become hybrids that are adept in both HR and marketing. HR professionals have to be aware that the effective management of layoff events will matter to far more people beyond the let-go employees.
The employees who remain with your company will feel the effects of a layoff. They may be emotional about the loss and possibly overburdened with an increased workload. Furthermore, the Harvard Business Review found that survivors of a layoff experience a 20% decline in job performance. Prospective employees will also take notice. In fact, CareerArc’s Employer Branding Study found that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. In addition, third parties like your consumer base can become aware of how terminations or layoffs are handled by your organization. And these customers may decide to take their business elsewhere if they are unsatisfied with the execution of termination events.
3 Keys to Protecting Your Brand During Organizational Downsizing
There’s no doubt that during a layoff, a company’s employer brand is put to the test. Outgoing employees have the ability to influence your employer brand through job boards, social media, and word of mouth. You’ll want to do what you can to safeguard your brand’s reputation. Tackle organizational downsizing in the best way possible with these tips:
1. Don’t Wing It: The Importance of Preparation
Your company’s layoff process should be reevaluated frequently. Ample thought is placed on recruiting and onboarding, so the same effort should go into organizational downsizing situations. It’s important to have a refined process for layoffs so that your company is proactive and not reacting in an ad-hoc manner.
Any negative feedback from a laid-off employee has the ability to go viral. In today’s interconnected world, reactions can be amplified. For example, when Yahoo!’s CEO stated after a major layoff the CEO that the company would not continue to terminate employees, only to restart terminations a short while later, people were led to believe the company’s management was disorganized and underprepared.
Preparation is key when it comes to organizational downsizing. Keep these tips in mind when developing your company’s plan for layoffs:
1. Get organized in advance and have a plan.
2. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.
3. Train first-time managers to have separation conversations.
2. Keep it Real: Communication is Key
Communication is a vital skillset for any separation event. For example, when Microsoft had to make a number of layoffs after failing to acquire Nokia, these terminations were communicated in one of the worst ways possible: via an email. The email consisted of 1100 words and took 11 paragraphs to mention the topic of layoffs. The company could have avoided backlash and mitigated brand impact had it followed these tips:
1. Conduct layoffs in person and with the employee’s immediate supervisor.
2. Keep conversations concise and to the point.
3. Stick with an approved script and remain calm.
4. Explain but don’t over-explain the decision.
5. Acknowledge the employee’s contribution.
6. Allow the employee the opportunity to ask questions.
Strong communication is also important for the people who still remain at the company. Consider these tips when communicating with retained employees:
1. Be aware that employees have lost friends and may have their own anxieties.
2. Discuss workload concerns.
3. Focus on the positives and be the corporate cheerleaders.
4. Thank employees for their support.
5. Be accessible and give them the opportunity to ask questions too.
3. Provide Help: Protect Your Employer Brand
Despite the efforts you make, your employer brand may still suffer some negative reviews. This kind of backlash isn’t rare: 66% of fired or laid-off employees share negative reviews of their former employers. Still, it’s important to take action to mitigate potentially damaging reactions.
One way to do that is to offer outplacement benefits, which helps laid-off employees through their job hunt. And with advances in technology, outplacement services like on-demand career coaching is accessible to everyone. Offering outplacement services to terminated employees not only lowers the chances of negative comments, but also helps prevent litigation, maintain employee morale, and protect your brand.
Whether large or small, companies should adopt these tips and be ready for a separation event. Learn more about CareerArc’s outplacement services and see how we can help your organization during a layoff.