Manager’s Guide to Layoffs

One of the most challenging tasks for any manager is to notify an employee of their layoff. It is loaded with potential legalities, not to mention feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sometimes panic. To make the process easier, here is a list of things to do when laying off an employee:


When notifying someone about their layoff, the first thing you should do is document the reasons and goals for the dismissal. Then prepare yourself emotionally and mentally. Recognize that this will be painful, do it with confidence and care, and know that you should maintain objectivity.

Schedule a Video Call or In-Person Meeting

Making a schedule for a meeting, whether on a video call or in person, is a must. This will help both parties prepare and avoid the employee being caught off guard. Not only will this give you time to gather everything you need, but it also gives the employee time to prepare.

Have a Meeting Guide

To ensure that everything goes as planned, create a guide for your meeting. You can estimate the amount of time you’re planning to spend on each part and leave an allowance for unexpected matters that can come up. Also, anticipate what the other party will ask or their reaction and add that to your meeting guide.

These are some of the things you need to consider when planning the meeting:

  • Time and day – make sure that your chosen time and day of the meeting won’t coincide with birthdays, anniversaries, and the like
  • Location (if in-person) – choose a meeting location that is neutral and offers all the privacy you need
  • Length of the meeting – keep the forum short and straightforward; twenty minutes is the optimum length as this avoids encouraging debates or having the conversation go another way

Create a Templated Written Response

Expect to face questions and objections. Prepare yourself with a variety of emotion-filled questions such as why? Understand that the employee may show anger, confusion, threats, or even silence. The best way to go about this is to create a templated response that will help you send replies that you won’t regret later on.

Think of your possible responses to questions and objections. Write down the things you need to say and how best to tell them. Also, think of the things that you should avoid saying, such as cliches or unsolicited advice.

Give Flexibility to Transition

Help ease the transition by giving flexibility to it. The following will help you do this:

  • Treat them with respect
  • Handle layoff conversations with care
  • Offer time for them to stay and train those who will stay
  • Give incentives for the transitional team

There are many other ways, but the bottom line is to make sure that the transition isn’t as tricky as it should be. This shows that you care and respect your former employees and that you wish them well in their future endeavors.

Provide Outplacement Assistance and Support

It’s always a good idea to show your appreciation for staff members who will be leaving. To do this, provide outplacement assistance and support them in these trying times. Services such as these will be able to help them with resume writing, consultations on career transitioning, or assistance with job searches. 

Providing them with letters of recommendation will surely help and be appreciated. Doing the layoff positively will make the experience more palatable and leave your company’s door open to future opportunities. Who knows? You may find yourself in the position of hiring these people again sometime soon.