Retain Talent and Make Future Re-hiring Easier During Layoffs

Retain Talent and Make Future Re-hiring Easier During Layoffs


We all know the saying, “it’s business, and it isn’t personal.” However, since the Covid pandemic hit, more employers have worked hard to make their company culture personal. Organizations invested in developing shared values with workers, engaging them with appreciation events, asking for their feedback, and even calling them part of the (insert company name here) family. Business has never been more personal. And employers need to be mindful of that during layoff seasons.

Not only that, but the workforce has changed. With baby boomers trickling out into retirement daily and millennials and zennials ruling the workforce, they have different expectations of their employers.

Sometimes, layoffs are unavoidable. I understand that, as many recruiters do. However, how an employer handles layoffs and employee transitions can make a huge difference in being able to hire and re-hire in the future and retain existing standout talent that you don’t want to lose.

Your biggest brand advocates can become your harshest critics.

Whether they go to review your workplace culture on Indeed, Google, Glassdoor, or apps like Blind, your millennial-driven workforce is always online. Former employees who feel mistreated, and even those remaining with survivor’s guilt, can go from being your best brand advocates to your most prominent critics overnight. And it doesn’t stop there.

Because not only will it be hard to re-hire talent that you laid off abruptly without benefit extensions or severance, but they will be sure to let others in the talent community know. That makes it harder for you to hire in the future because potential candidates will see your organization as a ticking time bomb and a huge liability.

Break the news the right way.

We’ve seen organizations lauded for helping to make employees’ lives and livelihoods easier as they transition out and search for new roles. Many approaches can help, but the first is breaking the news. Rather than doing so in a mass email or Zoom that makes people feel like a number, be sure to have your HR department and managers schedule 1:1 meetings to discuss these layoffs. If possible, make the meetings transparent, so they know what to expect with subjects like Company Reorg and Next Steps.

Ensure they understand that the layoff is not performance-related, and they will be eligible for re-hire. Show some empathy, and relay that you realize this is upsetting news, and it isn’t a move the company is proud or happy to make either, but you’re going to do everything to support the next steps in their careers possible.

Find ways to make the transition smoother.

Some firms specialize in outplacement and professional development. Be sure to consider hiring one to help exiting employees find reassurance and additional resources.

Be generous with severance pay, and don’t hold out on already-promised bonuses whenever possible. Employers paying little to no severance are actively shredded publicly in the news and on job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

Think about extending benefits for two months without the extra cost of Cobra for healthcare and dental coverage. Cobra is often more expensive than government-backed plans, and losing healthcare can devastate employees and their families.

Be transparent with your remaining workers.

Ensure you address concerns as openly as possible in an all-hands setting and explain how you’ve worked to support employees who were part of the layoff. Explain whether you see layoffs happening again soon. Reiterate how much your existing team members have contributed and how much they are valued at your business. Remind managers to have more frequent 1:1’s to cover questions and concerns. Employees will talk among themselves, but you can help set the tone for the dialogue.

Remember, the only constant is change.

Six months from now, the market could look different along with your business needs. When you’re ready to rebuild your workforce, starting with professionals with a track record at your organization will be easier. So, how you treat the people you lay off matters now and in the future. No one will want to be re-hired by a company that scrapped their position in a template email and skimped on severance. Keep in mind, your business is only as good as your people.

Have any questions? Staffing Strong has answers.

At Staffing Strong, from recruiting to retaining and developing your talent, we’re ready to help. Our talent specialists constantly examine how to enlist and retain top talent. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s made her career about supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. In her free time, Evelyn sits on various advisory boards and enjoys practicing on her drum set!

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