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Layoffs that make sense

2 min read


No one likes laying people off. It’s one of the least-pleasant responsibilities that managers have, which is why we’ve created so many euphemisms for it. Still, sometimes such cuts must  be made to save the organization. If you are in the unenviable position of having to let people go — and a lot of managers will  find themselves in that spot this year — don’t do it foolishly. Here are three mistakes you must avoid when cutting jobs.

  • Using irrelevant criteria. Seniority, family ties and how badly someone needs a job are all common ways of deciding who to let go. They’re all also really foolish ways. Instead, use this opportunity to analyze your business’s needs, as well as individuals’ performance. This is your chance to prune your organization of underperforming divisions and slacker workers, Wendell Williams writes at
  • Being stingy with severance. A couple weeks’ pay and a few m onths’ worth of health insurance premiums are a worthy investment in your departing employees’ goodwill. A vocal cadre of grumpy former employees will just make recruiting that much harder when the economy picks back up again.
  • Neglecting the people you’ve kept. Seeing their long-time co-workers clearing out their desks is unnerving for workers. The people who didn’t lose their jobs will have a lot of questions: Who’s going to pick up the extra work? Am I next? Are we headed toward bankruptcy? It’s your job to proactively quell their anxiety by answering them. You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep, but nor should you hide out in your office.

What are the biggest mistakes you see companies make in managing layoffs?