HANDLING LAYOFFS WITH CONSIDERATION AND GRACE

            This article has been inspired by the current climate in the Barbados Labour market. If one is moving back to Barbados, it cannot be with blinders. Have a job lined up before you come or be sure that you have significant savings if you want to move first and search for employment after. For those who are already here as business persons, and are facing financial challenges which may require that you must terminate employees, remember that there are methods that encourage all parties to handle a difficult situation with grace.

It should be no surprise to anyone that terminations are traumatic experiences. For example, a recent news article mentioned the fainting of a Drainage Division worker on hearing she would be laid off. To be laid-off means more than losing a job or losing money. It means the disruption of many facets of one’s life including family challenges which may arise due to the economic and emotional strain that has been introduced. Simply put, a person’s life is turned upside-down. The experience may be less jolting, however, with proper management.

Wayne F. Cascio, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Colorado and a prolific writer, states in his book, Managing Human Resources, that when creating policies in regards to layoffs, that one should consider the impact on several groups inclusive of those who are leaving and those who remain. He purports the need for “face-to-face, candid, open communication” between senior management and staff. He encourages preparation and support for those who will be laid-off, helping them through their transition. He also recommends openness with the survivors of layoffs to cultivate trust in order to boost morale and help them to feel more secure, loyal, motivated and productive.

Raymond A. Noe, a training and development specialist, endorses these thoughts in his text, Employee Training and Development, and takes it even further. He notes that research has shown that layoffs do not result in increased profits, but that they can have an adverse effect on productivity, work load, commitment and morale of workers. He suggests that alternative ways to reduce labour costs should be considered first, such as fewer working hours for employees, early retirement plans, delayed wage increases and not filling positions created by retirement and turnover. If these methods prove fruitless and layoffs are inevitable then it is the responsibility of management to adequately prepare all workers while trying to diminish any negative consequences.

If certain courtesies are extended, such as advance notice, clear and adequate explanations, and provisions for psychological, financial and career counselling, there are benefits to all parties. Those to be laid-off are not caught off-guard, are given time to make other arrangements and are even given resources to make the transition easier. Those who remain employed will have better attitudes and should maintain productivity once a sense of fairness has been exhibited. Furthermore, the reputation of the employer remains relatively unsullied if this approach is taken.

Timing is also important. Noe suggests that termination announcements should not be made on Friday afternoons, very late on any day or before a holiday. He advises that termination should happen early in the week to facilitate employees receiving counselling and possibly outplacement assistance.

Employees should also be aware of their rights and privileges. For example, they should know what to expect from Barbados labour legislation such as the Severance Payments Act or any benefits to be expected from National Insurance. They should also know where to access services such as the Government-funded Employee Assistance Programme for public workers. Ideally, if there is open communication, transparency, honest and fair treatment, the result of the retrenchment transition should leave all with their dignity intact.

Bajan Mom has a background in Psychology and MSc in Management

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Posted on January 23, 2014, in Business and Product Reviews, In the News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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