Recession Communications: Managing Employee Relations While Downsizing

Often when people talk about how to communicate layoffs, what they're thinking is, "What do I say to the people I have to let go?" That's understandable--layoffs are stressful. But before getting into the weeds, it's important to step back and think about the overarching goals. What are you trying to accomplish?

  • First, that your company and its management remain credible--with employees and with other constituencies, from investors to regulators to community leaders.

  • Second, that you are able to retain and if necessary attract top talent

  • And third, that when the downturn's over, the company not only will have survived, but will be ready to stake out a leadership position.

If these are your goals, as important as what you say to those you are letting go is what you say to the employees who are staying and to those other constituents whose support will be needed for the company to survive and prosper. Communicating layoffs is never fun, but there is an upside--an opportunity to refocus on a shared mission and commit to a shared vision for future.

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