WhatsApp Group Chat – Humane Way to Conduct Layoffs and the Controversies

The Talent Acquisition profession is no stranger to the concept of Layoffs or the controversies surrounding it such as what is the humane way to conduct them? We’ve heard so much negativity about it but how many of us have really focussed on the positive aspects to realise the silver lining in such scenarios.

We @SourcingAdda constantly strive to help you stay updated with the changing trends in the Industry we’re both passionate about. And we are able to do that thanks to the participation of our members especially one of our Chennai Group member’s Rafeeq who suggested having a discussion on, “With the latest lay off controversy in Tech Mahindra; what is the humane way to lay off someone?” And here’s what we uncovered but do remember that right after that we’ll highlight the key take away pointers for your reference. So let’s begin…

Humane Way to Conduct Layoffs and the Controversies

Were you wondering about what is the humane way to conduct Layoffs then the conversation above may have cleared all your concerns. If yes, then we’re certain you want to review all the points that were discussed so here are the key take away points to assist you in retaining what you’ve learnt…

Understand the consequences of your actions

General Perspective

  • There are always two sides to a story hence one needs to check about the other side as well before passing judgement.
  • An individual in this situation has a natural tendency to do a self-assessment
  • When conveying the message ensure you think from a Doctor’s perspective conveying the message to the patient suffering from Cancer.
  • Recruiters and Employers need to be more empathetic to the situation
  • The Employee/s needs to be handled wisely and in a considerate manner
  • Nor Recruiters or Employers and neither Employees are innocent all need to do their part and work hard.
  • Bearing the cost of tomorrow is huge
  • You also need to consider the aspect that you don’t know what the next action plan of the employee might be.
  • If the Management is imposing their decision of expecting the Employee to resign overnight and require the HR to follow through with it then deal with the situation with the utmost care.
  • As far as possible the Management or Employer needs to avoid such scenarios from occurring hence the panning needs to be done in more efficient manner.
  • One can be as humane as one wants to when conveying the message across
  • No matter what you do asking anyone to leave their paying job is going to hurt
  • Even if you put it softly or rudely (which one shouldn’t do), people are not going to like it

Recruiters Perspective

  • As Recruiters, understand the consequences of your actions, words and the tone you use when conveying the message.
  • Your lack of empathy can result in drastic actions taken by the employee that is laid off
  • Know that today it is the Candidate tomorrow it can be you the Recruiter
  • Recruiters should find a way to soften the blow as it is undoubtedly not a good situation
  • As fellow Recruiters you also need to realise the reasons behind the Recruiters behaviour towards an Employee’s layoff.
  • Know that sometimes it’s probably the Management who may have pressured the HR to do things that they normally wouldn’t do if they were in their right mind.
  • In such a scenario it is essential for an HR to figure out the best way to convey the message in an appropriate manner irrespective of the Managements instruction as far as possible.

Employers Perspective

  • When a company decides to layoff an employee they need to make appropriate provisions available if possible to help the candidate move on.
  • When inappropriate behaviour is expressed by an HR the Employer should ensure that even their HR under goes NLP trainings for improvement.
  • It is important that organisations give the employee notice /cross skill training
  • They should be clear about the amount the Employee will get once they leave the organisation
  • When you lay off Employees it helps when you offer them certain benefits like health if possible as this good gesture may reduce the casualties in the process.

Employees Perspective

  • One video clip or audio clip will not summarise the entire scenario
  • And no matter what you do you’ll never get the true reasons for ones actions
  • Exposing ones shot comings may minimize the organisations chances of capturing talent in future.
  • Simply ruining an organisations reputation doesn’t mean they won’t get candidates for further requirements.
  • All it does is it gives, the afflicted individual an outlet to get their frustrations out but in turn the person exposing the organisation’s short coming’s their reputation tends to get ruined.
  • This leaves the afflicted person even more upset further as it reduces their chances to get hired in another organisation.

Reasons for Layoffs

Employers Perspective

Down Sizing

  • Layoffs happen when the project is …
  • Running in the non-profit zone
  • Going to shut down
  • Employees aren’t ready to accept the changes
  • Not ready to move to other opportunities within the same company
  • Employers should ensure that their Employees under -go extreme intense Behavioural Training and Coaching post the inappropriate behaviour but if the Employee improves great else lay the person off.
  • Most companies are consolidating businesses and maximizing profits at whatever cost, even if it means people have to be let go.
  • Businesses are run on profitability & value to the share -holders
  • Many of them are living a retired life & dependent on the return on investment
  • Right sizing has always been a norm for such companies
  • Economic / Business reasons forces the unwary management to downsize

Right Sizing

  • With the ever increasing costs of IT professionals India is slowly losing its preferred outsourcing destination status.
  • Every organisation is focused on profit margins
  • With cost pressures and reduced margins companies are always trying to find ways to stay in business
  • Using newer technologies and automation can help companies achieve their goals with minimum costs.

Conducting Layoffs in a humane way

  • To help the process go as smoothly as possible
    • When breaking the news to the Employee, choose your words carefully as they will have an impact; hence your approach should be –
      • Empathetic
      • Thoughtful
      • Appropriate
      • Consistent message
      • Done with care
      • Done with dexterity
    • Listening to your employees’ –
    • Concerns
    • Fears
    • Questions
    • The above aspects help them –
    • Through the grieving process
    • Understand what their options are
    • Come to grips / terms with the situation
    • When speaking with the employee –
    • Explain the real reasons for the changes in the organization and layoff
    • Let the person know that the layoff doesn’t reflect your impression of them or their reputation
    • Avoid being rude or stern and telling them that they need to resign today itself
    • Organizations need to understand & handle cases sensitively
    • A lot of preparation is needed before you execute your plan
    • You need to consider the employees perspective as well in your planning as you need to think about what if someone runs to the terrace to jump off, hence you also need to monitor the Employees you lay off.
    • Handling a life altering situation is a tricky business & requires maturity beyond expectations, which is lacking among today’s professionals.
    • The attitude is such that it’s just another task and no is not the answer

Precautions to be taken

Before Layoffs

  • Any hard talk can be handled in a humane way
  • Resorting to downsizing leaves very less scope for empathy, compassion and the humane approach we’re talking so much about.
  • Periodically a mature Management can organise engagements with employees through the HR
  • Engagements can help to set the Employee expectations right & prepare them for future challenges, changes & disruptions.
  • Engagements should be linked to annual review & appraisal as a prerequisite
  • First try to re-purpose the individual to another project if there is a possibility
  • The process should be ascertained in such a way that an employee can be recalled for any future opportunities.
  • In the event of reducing staff it is important to treat the employee the same way they were treated when they were first on boarded.
  • The most important aspect is that they are also human and there is a high possibility that we may face a similar situation in future.
  • Give them the real reason for this decision rather than saying “performance issues”
  • There are regulations that protect the financial interest of the person getting separated like –
  • Monthly Salary
  • Gratuity
  • Ex gratia
  • Severance pay

After Layoffs

  • You need to treat them with the same respect and trust as you would yourself unless you’re concerned that the employee will e-mail everyone in the company.
  • It is essential that you not make the employee feel like a criminal –
  • Leave the building now
  • Cut off access unless you’re concerned that the employee will email everyone in the company
  • Involve them in day to day activities don’t make them feel alien all of a sudden.
  • Allow the employee to cancel the scheduled appointments if a client is showing up later the same day.
  • Try and ensure that you give earlier notice as it is the professional way to handle layoffs
  • Allow people to serve the entire notice period (this could be a 2 edged sword as well if the person starts bad mouthing the organization while staying on).
  • Get the management to agree to give severance pay if people are being asked not to serve a notice period as well.
  • Always try to have a face to face discussion rather than a conversation via call or e-mail informing them that their job has gone.
  • Schedule for a small Career Counselling or a Counselling session
  • Check within your network to see if there are any vacancies that can help them
  • Give all required support to the person being asked to go.
  • Let them know that as and when an opportunity arises in the organization, they would be the 1st ones to be reconsidered.

The benefits of Layoffs

  • The new era is characterized by rapid changes in technology
  • The Layoff phase provides a great opportunity for Recruiters and HRs to capture talented folks
  • Laid off Candidates can be perfect replacements for vacant roles in mid-level and small companies as they can maintain the balance.

Get the facts in place

Employee/Candidate Perspective

Accept Certain Facts

  • It is important for candidates to realise that it’s because of their talent and hard work that a Company grows and not the other way around.
  • The relation that a candidate and company share is such that one cannot do without the other
  • Candidates need to –
  • Realise where they stand
  • Understand the gravity of the situation they are in
  • Understand the circumstances as they stand / are
  • Understand the risk involved
  • Understand that they may face unemployment for long durations
  • Realise that they shouldn’t sell themselves short but be reasonable about it
  • Employees / professionals working in the private sector should not assume continued stability in their current engagement with an organization.
  • Change & rapid disruption is life which people need to accept
  • They need to keep themselves abreast with new methods of work, learn new skills & unlearn as well.
  • This will make people strive towards re-skilling themselves, improving their efficiency / effectiveness & remain relevant or seek out other options.
  • On the other hand IT professionals should understand the need of the hour and prepare themselves
  • To stay prepared it is absolutely essential for IT professionals to up-skill / multi – skill themselves to avoid being laid off.

Recruiters Perspective

  • Candidates from MNCs generally would not opt for start-ups or mid – level organizations and the salary isn’t the constraint.
  • At the same time Recruiters need to take care not to take undue advantage of the Candidates venerability and exploit it.

Accept certain facts

  • Even though it’s a competition to capture the best Talent that doesn’t mean candidates have no choice in the matter.
  • They can decide whether they want to take the opportunity or go another way
  • Candidates have no choice is one of the many misconceptions recruiters have; so you need to stay clear of such myths as they’ve always got a choice and so do you.
  • It’s the Candidates life and they have a right to select either your opportunity or wait for a better one, no matter how dire the circumstances may be.
  • As HRs we may ask for suggestions but the reality is that ultimately the decision to implement the suggestions rest’s in the decision makers we can hardly impose them.
  • HR and Management should organize periodic engagements with all employees where they are given the right perspective on the overall scenario.

Employers perspective

Accept the certain facts

  • Majority of the opinions that came out today were rather populist or idealist ones
  • Retrain to retain is actually a big joke
  • Communism inside a capitalist framework is too much to expect
  • Financial implications are huge
  • Businesses doesn’t run that way

The Scenario

  • Layoff’s in India are going to be a recurrent scenario
  • That’s the way it happens in the US and that’s what is being patronized in India
  • Layoffs affect us so much because we’re not used to being asked to go, rather we’re used to deciding if we want to move to another organization or no.
  • No matter which way you put it, a layoff for anyone especially in India comes as a big blow due to financial liabilities.
  • The “one earning member in the family” setup is slowly fading away but still exists

Reasons why people avoid asking for help and get frustrated

  • The reasons are why people don’t reach out to other people for help and get frustrated
    • While the sun is shining, people are making hay (buying things – be it homes, vehicles, etc.) without any back-up plan in most cases.
    • Another problem is the social stigma that people fear (what will so and so think and say?)
    • Ideally the severance package is anywhere between 2-3 months full salary so it’s not the immediate financial impact but the loss of face among family & friends that matters.

Given the amount of insights shared we think it is safe to say that we’ve covered almost all the possible aspects that needed to be addressed. Having said that, we’re sure you’d like to know more about the Best Employee Engagement practices as well.

If you’ve found these discussions worth your while then here’s what you can do to be a part of these discussions in two simple steps namely,

  1. Follow us @Sourcingadda to gain real time updates to our upcoming activities and events such as the Talent Acquisition Summit
  2. a) Leave your views or requests to join these groups in our comments section below

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  1. b) DM us to @Sourcingadda with your name, WhatsApp. Contact no. and location

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