As the economy slows a bit more, chances are someone you know will be faced with a layoff. Currently, Americans rank how businesses treat their workers as the most important ESG (environmental, social, governmental) issue. This climbs above many other hot topic issues like climate change and political activism.
Employees want to be treated well, even after being shown the door after a layoff. We don’t find this to be an unreasonable ask. After all, employees often give years, even decades, of dedication to their employer, so it’s nice to have some assurance in a world where nothing seems promised. As the US faces a possible increase in layoffs due to a slowing economy, companies are building (or destroying) their reputations based on how they handle the process.
Paul Wolfe is the former head of HR at Indeed and now runs a corporate consulting firm. He went on record to say,
“My general philosophy on letting people go is you want to treat people well because it all goes back to your brand and in today’s market, employer brand is very important.”
He’s not wrong.
There’s been an increase in salary transparency, both in the job marketing as well as in social circles. Websites like Glassdoor allow current and former employees to leave feedback on the company, meaning a company’s reputation is following them in a much more public way than ever before.
If you’ve just been laid off, here are some tips to help you navigate the process of a layoff:
1) Don’t sign anything right away.
Layoffs often come with a lot of shock and emotion. Legally, your employer must let you know if there’s a deadline for returning the signed separation offer. Read over it thoroughly and seek a consultation from an employment lawyer, if possible. It may be in your best interest to negotiate, especially if your company isn’t faced with mass layoffs.
2) Consider how you take severance pay.
If you’re on the move to a new employer or have another financially secure plan, you may be interested in taking a lump sum and moving on quickly. However, some folks would do best to stay on the payroll and list continued employment on their resume. Legally, you can still list active employment on your resume if you’re being paid severance via payroll. This is especially helpful to those who may have only spent a short time with the company. Health benefits typically remain active as long as the employee is on payroll, so this is another point to consider.
3) Set reasonable expectations on the amount of severance pay you should receive.
Most companies only offer 1-3 weeks of pay per each year on payroll, but if you believe you’ve been an important asset to the company you may be able to negotiate for additional pay.
When considering if your company’s policy is a good one, it is important to weigh the above points. Layoffs can lead to scary and uncertain times for employees and it’s important to build a policy that honors their hard work and sets them up to continue their career without massive set back, if possible.
While a good layoff policy isn’t a surefire way to ease the pain, it can certainly make the difference between a hard time and a devastating one.
If you’re looking for what not to do, many will point to the way Elon Musk has handled his takeover of Twitter. Musk immediately let top execs go and held strict ultimatums over the remaining employees’ heads. Concurrently, Twitter began rolling out sudden changes to the platform, which only increased the public’s distrust in the brand. Former employers took to social media and online forms like Reddit to share internal emails and information, giving the public an inside look at the metaphorical car crash.