It's pretty bad out there right now.
The unemployment rate in the US is at 6.7 percent, with half a million jobs lost in November alone. This is the worst rate since 1993, the year before I graduated from college.
In this environment, many employers are having to slash large swaths of jobs, and with it comes the human tendency to go the easy route. A great article on NPR highlights this trend.
And in the age of transparency is easy to send an email, write a blog post or send out a tweet. But there are right and wrong ways to do this.
BRUTAL Radio Shack laying off 400 employees via e-mail
CONDESCENDING Northwest gives its laid off employees tips to save money
MAINTAINS DIGNITY Cake Financial talked with the affected employees directly, then published a regretful post immediately afterward (see NYT story)
Of course, companies must now be concerned with employees telling their side of the story in real time, like one former Yahoo employee did when he sent out a few tweets on the micro-blogging service Twitter as he was laid off from Yahoo.
The whole world is indeed watching, and HR managers and Public Relations departments needs to keep a few things in mind.
7 Tips for Company Layoffs
- The layoff (especially mass layoffs) will most likely be blogged, Twittered or otherwise related in a public forum
- The company should consider putting out an official story about the layoffs and voicing genuine concern
- The company will always be the bad guy, but this can be mitigated by doing the right thing
- A personal touch is needed for these situations, forget mail, e-mail or SMS messages
- Minimize faceless and policy-driven thinking
- Remember that investors, future employees and your mother is watching how this is handled
- Remaining employees will be demoralized by a brutal layoff – they could be next after all, plus they will have survivors guilt