For one Winslow, Maine, window manufacturer, seasonal layoffs seemed inevitable. It was a painful process for all involved, but one that, in theory, would provide the company with capital to expand in the springtime and eventually add jobs.
How successful that strategy might be takes real consideration; a close-read on the article linked above is advised. Saying you will use the money to expand and add jobs is a good way to spin the public relations message around a company layoff. But is that true? Well, there is no denying that preserving capital is key to staying solvent. Remember: cash is king.
If you do have to layoff employees to preserve cash in slow times, do it as compassionately as possible. How a company conducts itself at such a crucial time will be remembered. The smaller the community, the more impact the message will have. In this, details matter. How the layoffs are done, right down to the day you choose to do it, matters to those involved. Indeed, the About article linked above suggests making the announcement early in the week, to allow people to immediately apply for unemployment and start their job search. "The last thing you want is to create a situation in which people are mourning their jobs, fretting over their future, and becoming angry over a weekend when action possibilities are limited."
But the author points out that a reader with solid experience offers a different point of view on this matter, writing: "I remember some controversy about which day to conduct the necessary layoff. As someone who has done numerous lay-offs and as someone who has been laid off several times, I understand it from both points of view. I believe the best day to lay off employees is on Thursday or better on Friday. The end of the week gives employees a full or almost full paycheck which is vitally needed when you have to pay your bills. It gives employees more respect to let them work a full week."
The take-home message: Don't get too caught up in the business benefits when communicating the layoff. That comes first, when making the decision. Once you've decided to act, however, make sure you look at things from the perspective of those receiving the message. As Darren Dahl explains in "A Better Way of Conducting Layoffs" it just makes good business sense to treat your exiting employees well, if for no other reason than those ex-employees are most likely to go to your competition: "A bitter employee reveals information that they would not do under normal circumstances. It's not criminal or unethical– it's just human."
It's not just about those let go, Paul Winan's reminds us (see "You've Just Fired Someone. Now What?"). Those who remain in the company may be struggling with morale, and need to feel secure in order to move forward.