Is There a Good Way to Announce Layoffs in Westchester County?

In a job market full of fluctuations, terminations are becoming a chilling possibility.

Question: How do you tell an employee that they are being laid off? In the ideal world, it would be done with tact and empathy. Unfortunately, we’re not in the ideal world.

Phil Hall
Phil Hall. Photo by Jefferey Dyer.

“The pandemic created a new degree of awareness regarding workplace-related mental health issues, though the handling of layoffs seems to have been overlooked.”

I was recently laid off from a company where I worked for more than seven years. My goodbye came with my supervisor emailing me on a Thursday to call our company’s accountant, a third-party vendor, on the following day after 3 pm. My supervisor claimed he had no idea why the accountant suddenly wanted to converse with me at that odd hour, but the accountant coldly contradicted him to report my employment was terminated.

Of course, some people have no problem kicking out employees. One of the most egregious examples might be CEO Vishal Garg, who used a Zoom webinar during the 2021 year-end holiday season to inform more than 900 employees they were being terminated. “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off – your employment here is terminated effective immediately,” said Garg without betraying a hint of remorse.

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These are not isolated cases – try typing “layoff horror stories” into a search engine and spend some time with the endless selection of astonishing tales that come up.

Losing one’s livelihood is bad enough, but having it trashed in a callous manner is emetic. Multiple studies have shown stress-related illnesses and self-destructive behavior increase dramatically among people who are laid off. And even the employees who are spared the axe often suffer after they realize no worker is indispensable and their jobs could be the next to go.

The pandemic created a new degree of awareness regarding workplace-related mental health issues, though the handling of layoffs seems to have been overlooked. And considering that some industries are experiencing a new wave of layoffs, perhaps the time is right to begin a more holistic way to enact layoffs.

laid off
Adobe Stock / Orapun

For starters, a good idea would be to banish surprise terminations – kicking a person when they least expect it is miserable. Explaining the circumstances that resulted in the termination decision would help – those being let go have a right to know they were considered expendable. Perhaps offering to assist in the search for a new (and, hopefully, better) position could ease the pain and erase the ill will for those being let go.

Most important, those relaying the bad news need to show some degree of feeling for those being subjected to joblessness. Leadership is about making tough decisions in an intelligent manner – outsourcing the task to others or abruptly booting loyal workers in the rear only confirms those in leadership positions do not deserve the power and authority they possess.

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