Home » Leadership » Layoffs Should Be a Last Resort

Layoffs Should Be a Last Resort

These last 6-8 months have been brutal when it comes to layoffs. Layoffs should be a last resort. I have so many questions around workforce planning that make me wonder if some companies know how to plan their workforces? Why all the layoffs? Why so darn many people? A layoff of this many people, tells me that no one was paying attention. Was a layoff truly necessary? Or was it the quick, easy way out? Last question…when did it become acceptable to lay people off via email? What a cowardly way out. For those of you that emailed employees about layoffs, seriously? Do me a favor, invest in some leadership coaches!

I want to start off by saying that YES, I know Covid caused a panic and caused changes in the way we work but come on, how long are we going to use Covid as an excuse for everything?

I want business owners to know that I get it. Sometimes, sh!t happens and changes need to be made. That said, I also want business owners to know that layoffs should be the last resort. Consider all other options. A layoff should take days or weeks, even a month to plan. If you do a layoff within a few days, you are doing it wrong and likely will be doing it again in the future. 

If business begins to turn, keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. Don’t blindside your employees. They are not dumb. Keep them informed and allow them to manage their lives. If you cannot recover from this business downturn, please be honest with your employees. 

Okay, let’s break this down. 

Workforce planning. Do you guys have any idea what this is and how to implement a workforce plan? A workforce plan lays out scenarios for talent. The good, the bad, the ugly. It allows HR departments to consider options with regards to talent. A good workforce plan can help manage over and/or under hiring. 

A solid workforce plan puts eyes on top performers, potential retirements, flight risks, leaves of absences, under performers, opportunities for transfers, promotions and back-filling other roles. I understand that when you are laying off five thousand people, it is impossible to find a place for everyone but gosh, why are you overstaffed by 5k people? Find a place for as many as possible.

A layoff should not be a blanket number across the board. Layoffs should consider each department, employee performance and tenure of employee. Each department includes the executive level as well. It is easy for organizations to get top-heavy during good times. Take a look at your executive team, do you really need all of them? Additionally, if you are laying off a 15 year employee because of poor performance, I recommend laying off their leader as well. Poor performance should not go on for 15 years and it is a reflection of poor leadership. 

Along with a good workforce plan, organizations need someone that has a good eye on the market. Is this slow down a bump in the road? How long will it last? Is it more cost effective to keep people that are trained or hire and train a bunch of new people? Will you be able to find people when you need them? 

If you absolutely cannot avoid a layoff, for all that is good in the world, PAY A SEVERANCE!

It is the least you can do. And not a flat rate severance. If you lay someone off that has been with you, loyal to you for a decade, compensate them for it. After all, you just turned their world upside down. Pay severance based on years of service. 


Finally, DO NOT BE A COWARD and layoff people with an email. This is just poor communication at its best. It is so disrespectful to people that have been loyal to you. Sure, an email is quicker but it is also a cheap and easy way out. Learn to have the conversations, regardless of how difficult they are. Teach your leaders how to have the conversations and how to respect your employees. Talk with them, give them your time. 

Bottom line for business owners:

  • Layoffs should be your last resort
  • Plan better
  • Exhaust all other options for employee placement
  • Take a good look at the executive team
  • If a slowdown is short lived, consider the cost to layoff versus hire, retrain and replace with a new workforce.
  • Pay a severance
  • DO NOT EMAIL news about layoffs. 

If you need help with a layoff, please get a consultant or attorney specializing in employment and layoffs. Feel free to contact me at HRCreativeConsulting.com