Bernie Sanders says he's going to be laying off hundreds of workers. This is a logical action for a campaign that needs to focus in on a few remaining areas. As Sanders said to the New York Times,
We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around the country. We don't need people right now in Connecticut. That election is over. We don't need them in Maryland. So what we are going to do is allocate our resources to the 14 contests that remain, and that means that we are going to be cutting back on staff.
Layoffs are commonplace in elections. After all, everyone comes on board knowing that the job is temporary. Of course, there's the hope that if your candidate wins, you'll get a job in their administration. Presidential candidates, of course, have a lot more jobs available if they win than a small town mayoral candidate, but they also have more staff.
Even though the workers know the jobs are temporary, lots of campaign workers are absolutely passionate about their jobs and their candidate. In the Sanders case, all is not lost yet, and some will want to continue cheering him forward-but, without a paycheck. How do you layoff passionate staff without losing their support?
You may think this is irrelevant, but in the startup world, layoffs happen, and you still need your former staff to speak highly of you if you have any chance of succeeding. Here's your best shot. (Of course, there's no perfect way to do a layoff.)
Be honest up front.
In campaigns, this is a given, and the writing is clearly on the wall and tracked on the pages of the New York Times. They could see Clinton racking up the wins. The campaign staff in Connecticut knows that the Connecticut race is over, and since Sanders isn't likely to make it to the general election, they aren't needed anymore.
If your business is doing poorly, let your staff know. Keep them in the loop. They won't feel blindsided if they know things aren't going well before the layoffs.
Be fair and logical.
Sanders says he doesn't need workers in Maryland and Connecticut anymore, so I presume those people will be the first to be laid off. He shouldn't be laying off employees in California since the race there hasn't happened.
Startups are often populated with people who are friends of the founders. If you just keep those people instead of eliminating the logical positions, you'll find the people you let go are far angrier at you than they would be if you'd been fair.
Offer appropriate severance.
Severance isn't required by law in most cases, which means you don't legally have to provide it in most cases. (Always, always, always, consult an employment attorney before laying off employees to make sure you're legally compliant.) In the Sanders case, because the jobs were never meant to permanent severance might not be necessary to keep those former employees "feeling the Bern."
Your company, though, doesn't have quite the pull that a political campaign does. Offering severance does two things: First, it allows your employee to have a little bit of money to help them while they find a new job. This lowers their anger level from losing their jobs. Second, in exchange for the severance, you can have your employees sign a general release, which decreases the chances of them suing you. It helps keep good feelings between former employees and the current company.
Help employees find new jobs.
This is one of the most important things you can do to help employees retain their passion for your brand after you've laid them off. This tells the employees you still value them as people, and you still want the best for them. If they understand that the layoff is for business reasons only and that you would have kept them if you could.
This doesn't mean you have to do the job hunt for them, but give positive references and introduce them to people who might be helpful.
Laying people off is never pleasant-not for the company, not for the managers, and certainly not for the people who lose their jobs. Doing it the right way, you can help keep their respect at minimum and hopefully their loyalty.