There is no greater joy as an employer than to give someone a job and know that you are making a positive contribution to their family. At the same time, one of the many things keeping business owners and CEOs up at night, is keeping good people around them and keeping them employed.

However, if a business is not profitable or if a business has to make a strategic business decisions, the cost of labor is a costly way of doing business and layoffs might be a short or long-term solution.

Whether it is laying off one person or 100, news of letting someone go could result in low employee moral, lost productivity and a general disruption to business, unless it is made clear why.

In communicating bad news, such as layoffs, keep these seven (7) tips in mind:

  1. Be honest, be direct and be quick.  Don’t sugar-coat the issue - Be direct and honest in communicating the news. The quicker you get to the news and deliver it, the quicker you will be able to eliminate rumors, cut the chatter and move on.
  2. Deal with the negatives.   Deal with the issues as they arise rather than waiting for them to metastasize. Small problems become big problems if left unaddressed or avoided completely.  If you don’t deal with issues as soon as you learn about them, others will begin to talk using social media and other forms of communication which will be more difficult to control down the road.
  3. Focus on the positives. Take advantage of the bad news and find an opportunity to reconnect with your existing employees. Use it as an opportunity to reinforce the organization’s vision and mission. Talk about a recent success, new leadership, a new brand or a strategic initiative. 
  4. Consider the medium in delivering the message. Email is mute. You can only guess at the tone in reading a message. Therefore, in delivering bad news try to do it face-to-face. If it is a large global or multi-state company, deliver the news via video and follow up with a personal visit to the each affected site, followed up by site visits elsewhere to ensure good morale. 
  5. Give them somewhere to go. These people worked for the company in a variety of capacities. Continue to show your support by giving them a place to go in figuring out what they should do next. Just don't let them go, give them some direction ad support. 
  6. Monitor the news.  No matter how well you communicate bad news and try to support those terminated, there will be someone or someone’s spouse that will turn to social media to say something negative. If it is a post on Facebook or Twitter, just watch it. Chances are others will see it for what it is. However, be prepared with the right messaging should a reporter from the local media or a trade publication pick up on it and call.
  7. Use history as a guide. Finally, look at your company's own history as a roadmap to inform your employees, vendors and others that you remain focused and on target in achieving your business objectives.  

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