Best Practice: Layoffs with Integrity

Cruel and Unusual

A controller for a state agency in Wisconsin was asked to prepare a two-year cash projection, a revised budget, and a plan for laying off a certain percentage of the agency's personnel by 4 p.m. on a Friday. He met the deadline and was handed his own pink slip 45 minutes later! Among his final duties was to type his own severance agreement.

A department head for an Illinois state medical facility that was being merged with a local city hospital faced the issue of upcoming layoffs with integrity. Employees were gratified when he did the following:

  • He first discussed the situation with employees and asked privately whether anyone was planning to move away from the area or leave for other reasons. He asked whether anyone would be willing to step forward and leave voluntarily.
  • Next, he made arrangements for employees to take time off for job interviews -- after providing each with a letter of reference and help in creating a ré sumé .
  • The manager also brought in a recruiting firm to make presentations for each shift of employees to help them keep their options open.

His steadfast professionalism allowed employees to see the difficult situation in the best possible light.

Copyright © 1999 Bob Nelson, used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Bob Nelson's Rewarding Employees newsletter.