UBP blog

07/15/2009

Recession and layoffs lead to a greater risk of retaliation against employers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubpblogger @ 9:11 am
Tags: , , ,

It’s no secret that our economy is in a recession and companies have either laid off or are continuing to lay off workers. A recent Fox TV Rasmussen Report showed that 77 percent of Americans know at least one person who has been laid off from their job and 12 percent of Americans know at least 10 people personally who have been laid off. Given all these layoffs, one thing that employers should keep in mind is the heightened risk of violent retaliations associated with a layoff and with involuntary terminations in general.

While there is no guarantee that a worker will retaliate violently against an employer after being terminated, there is always still a risk. There are several steps that employers and HR professionals can put in place at their companies to help mitigate these risks and help protect all other employees.

1. Give as much warning as possible of upcoming layoffs (that way they will be less of a shock if your employees know they are coming).

2. When your company has selected a particular employee for lay off, explain to them exactly why they are being selected and frame your explanation in as positive a manner as possible (i.e. You are an incredibly hard worker and a wonderful asset to this company, but we have discontinued the product that you work on and we need to let you go.)

3. Most importantly, have a plan for all the logistical aspects of a layoff, starting with deciding whether they will be done individually or as a group. Will terminated employees be allowed to go back to their desks and clean them out themselves or will someone gather their belongings and bring them to the termination site? Either way, make sure to have strong bags or boxes ready. How will you protect confidential information, contact lists and computer files?

4. Treat laid-off employees with dignity. If possible, help them to avoid the layoff “walk of shame”. For example, layoffs could be scheduled during the lunch hour so fewer employees see former co-workers leaving the building with their belongings.

5. While you are laying an employee off, verbally explain issues such as severance packages, unemployment benefits and continuation of insurance coverage under COBRA. You should also send them a letter about these issues. Most employees have a difficult time processing what they hear when they are very upset.

6. Last but not least, in anticipation of a worst-case scenario, have heightened security measures in place, especially during a big week of layoffs or when you are laying off someone you know has a short temper. When you are concerned about safety issues, plan to do the layoff in a room close to an exit door where the terminated employees do not have to walk through an area filled with co-workers on their way out. Finally, never let the employees being terminated sit between the HR Director and other “messengers” and the door, blocking your escape route!

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