No-one wanted the downturn but it’s here.

Every business describes itself as a family. On good days that’s true but the facts are it’s a numbers game. Sometimes you need to cut back expenses to keep a business afloat.

There are three things to keep in mind when laying someone off.

First, make sure you know what they do. Every process, every task. There may be some non-obvious things they do that add value.

An example may be that they phone a certain customers or suppliers to make sure that a certain thing is okay. Your customers now expect this level of service – don’t drop the ball.

Secondly, it can be a positive thing.

There are people you may have wanted to get rid of. Now’s the time – it may be a positive thing as another employee can take over that role and shine. Sometimes, however, you need to let a good person go. Do what you can for them: write a letter of reference.

Thirdly, here’s how you lay someone off:

Ensure their employment records are complete and correct. This is so they can process their EI applications as fast as possible.

Once the paperwork is ready bring them into your office. Explain that the receivables are down and not expected to pick up soon. You have to do what’s necessary to save the business.  Unfortunately this means there is not enough work for them and they’re being laid off as of Date X. You’re sorry but this is a business decision.

  • Obviously – If the layoff is temporary – say so from the get go.

Then shut up.

Let them talk. They obviously will not be happy and need to blow off steam. End the meeting by giving them their paperwork.

Laying people off is never easy. It can be done professionally and with dignity.