How To Conduct a Layoff – The Right Way

How To Conduct a Layoff - The Right Way

No one ever wants to have to lay off staff, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you’re faced with the difficult task of letting employees go, make sure you do it the right way. There are a lot of things to consider when laying off staff, from deciding who to let go to making sure their exit is as smooth as possible.

Remember, when you’re conducting a layoff, you’re not just ending someone’s employment – you’re also potentially affecting their entire life. With that in mind, let’s dig into how to lay off staff the right way.

How To Conduct a Layoff

Layoff Best Practices

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of actually conducting a layoff, let’s go over some best practices. These are things you should keep in mind no matter what, as they’ll help make the process easier for everyone involved.

Be decisive – Once you’ve made the decision to lay off staff, it’s important to be decisive and move forward quickly. The longer you wait, the more anxious your employees will become.

Be transparent – Your employees deserve to know why layoffs are happening. If possible, share as much information as you can about the financial situation of the company and why layoffs are necessary. This will help them understand your decision and hopefully make the transition smoother.

Communicate clearly – When you’re communicating with employees about the layoff, make sure you’re clear and concise. This isn’t the time to beat around the bush – they need to know exactly what’s happening when it’s happening, and what their next steps should be.

Create a plan – Before you start making any decisions, sit down and create a plan. This will help ensure that you’re taking a thoughtful and structured approach to the layoff process.

How To Conduct a Layoff - The Right Way

Steps To Lay Off Staff

Now that we’ve gone over some best practices, let’s move on to actually conducting the layoff.

Step One: Who To Lay Off?

The first step in any layoff is deciding who needs to go. This can be a difficult decision, but there are a few factors you should keep in mind to help you make the best choice.

  • Job function – Start by looking at the different job functions within your company. Are there any that can be eliminated or absorbed by other employees? If so, those are usually the first positions to be cut.
  • Skillset – Take a look at the skillsets of your employees and identify any duplicates. For example, if you have two marketing managers with very similar skill sets, it may make sense to lay off one of them.
  • Seniority – Another factor to consider is seniority. In most cases, it’s better to lay off newer employees over those who have been with the company for longer. Not only is this less disruptive to the company, but it also gives newer employees a chance to gain more experience before they’re let go.

Once you’ve decided who to lay off, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step Two: Preparing for the Layoff

Now that you know who needs to be laid off, it’s time to start preparing for the actual event. This is where things can get a bit tricky, as you need to make sure you’re handling everything correctly – both legally and emotionally.

To help you out, we’ve put together a checklist of things you need to do before conducting a layoff:

  • Review your employee handbook – The first thing you should do is review your employee handbook (if you have one). This will help you make sure that you’re following all the necessary procedures and protocols.
  • Check your state’s laws – Every state has different laws when it comes to layoffs, so it’s important to check and see what applies in your case. You don’t want to accidentally violate any laws and end up in hot water.
  • Consult with HR – If you have an HR department, now is the time to consult with them. They’ll be able to advise you on the best way to conduct the layoff, as well as help with any paperwork or other administrative tasks.
  • Create a script – Once you’ve consulted with HR and reviewed your options, it’s time to create a script. This is what you’ll say to the employees when you’re announcing the layoff, so it’s important to get it right. Make sure you’re clear, concise, and compassionate in your delivery.
  • Choose a date – The last thing you need to do before conducting the layoff is choose a date. It’s best to do this as soon as possible so that everyone has a chance to prepare mentally and emotionally for what’s coming.

Step Three: Conducting the Layoff

Now that you’ve prepared everything, it’s time for the actual layoff. As we mentioned before, this is usually done in one of two ways: via email or in person.

If you decide to go with the email method, make sure you’re clear and concise in your message. Include all the relevant information (dates, benefits, etc.), but don’t try to sugarcoat things too much. It’s better, to be honest than to try and soften the blow with false promises.

If you opt for the in-person method, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure you schedule a time that’s convenient for both parties – you don’t want to catch them off guard or at a bad time. Second, have everything prepared beforehand so that you’re not fumbling around during the meeting. And lastly, be as compassionate as possible – this is a tough situation for everyone involved.

Once you’ve conducted the layoff, it’s important to follow up with the affected employees. This can be done via email, phone, or in person (if they’re still employed by the company).

In your follow-up, you should thank them for their contributions to the company and let them know that they’re welcome to reach out if they need anything. You should also include information on any severance packages or other benefits they may be entitled to.

How To Conduct a Layoff - The Right Way

What Not To Do When Conducting a Layoff

Now that you know how to conduct a layoff the right way, it’s time to talk about what not to do. These are a few common mistakes that business owners and managers make when terminating employees:

  • Don’t procrastinate – If you need to lay off someone, don’t wait around hoping the situation will improve. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for everyone involved.
  • Don’t avoid the issue – Another mistake is avoiding the issue altogether. This will only make things worse in the long run. If you’re having trouble with an employee, address the problem head-on instead of sweeping it under the rug.
  • Don’t take it personally – It’s important to remember that a layoff is a business decision, not a personal one. Try to detach yourself from the situation as much as possible and make the best decision for the company.

Final Thoughts

While layoffs are never easy, we hope this guide has made the process a little bit easier for you. Just remember to stay calm, be prepared, and be compassionate – both to yourself and to those who are affected by the layoff.


It breaks our hearts every time we have to conduct a layoff. We know how tough it is for everyone involved, which is why we’ve put together this guide. We hope it helps you in some small way.

If you’re facing a layoff or were recently laid off, our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything we can do to help.


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