Look at Both Sides of Lay-offs

Lessons for employee lay-offs. Recently I coached a woman that was given a choice to keep her job and take a 50% pay cut or leave with a small severance package.
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Updated on December 08, 2009
By Robyn Loup, Insights By Robyn, Life Coach LLC

Look at Both Sides of Lay-offs

Recently I coached a woman that was given a choice to keep her job and take a 50% pay cut or leave with a small severance package. Susan worked at this organization for 14 years and never received a negative evaluation. She was also treated for breast cancer, so medical insurance was a necessity for her. She is over 65 years old so "cobra" was not an option for her because of Medicare requirements.

When her supervisor approached her he just handed her a piece of paper with the information and never looked at her as she realized her life was about to change. Susan was in a state of shock with the news but was given a brief time to respond to the offer.

I asked her if the supervisor's lack of sympathy and poor communication added to the pain of the situation and she said absolutely. Susan said if she could understand "why" she was being forced to accept a much smaller salary or leave, it would have been easier for her to accept the bad news.

It is also painful for the supervisor to have to cut employees because of reduced
budgets. Which employees to select for downsizing? Will it be the individuals that
bring revenue into the business or the employees that have tenure and loyalty but
aren't the same asset to the company? In other words, does an employee's personal
health and life situation an ingredient in a decision or is it strictly bottom line?

The new movie "Up In The Air" it is about a man (played by George Clooney)
is always traveling to companies to inform employees that they have terminated.
He makes an effort to put a positive spin on a very difficult situation, however
bringing in an outside person to deliver the bad news is cowardly instead
of having a direct conversation from the employer.

Letting employees go especially in a bad economy is a very difficult and sometimes'
a painful thing to do. The question is not"who" you terminate but "how" you handle
the process. Here are some suggestions (1) Do it in person (2) Be honest and
specific (3) Answer the persons questions to the best of your ability: i.e. insurance,
unemployment,retraining (4) acknowledge their contribution to the organization
(5) wish them well in their future.

The respect of the dignity of the individual is very important, it should make the
employer feel better about the process and it will let the laid off employee walk out with their head held high.

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