Conducting Employee Layoffs With Respect

Conducting employee layoffs can be difficult. Layoffs must be done in a way that is both effective and respectful. They must also respect certain legal restrictions. If your business is considering layoffs at this time or anticipates layoffs in the near future, keep these tips in mind.

Include your human resources team in every step of the process.

Human resources team members specialize in understanding the legal and ethical best practices surrounding the layoff process. Having an HR team member involved in each step of the process provides an additional perspective. It can also help ensure an accurate record of decisions made and their basis.

Hold exit interviews and encourage departing team members to speak freely.

Exit interviews give you an opportunity to understand both the role and the layoff from the team member’s perspective. Allowing people to tell their stories uninterrupted can also do much to defuse negative emotions. Done well, an exit interview results in a team member leaving with the feeling that they have been heard and taken seriously, even though their position was terminated.

Discuss layoffs in person and in private.

Never give layoff news over the telephone, email, or text message, and never give it in front of other team members. Instead, schedule an in-person meeting between yourself, the person to be laid off, and a member of the HR staff. Impersonal or public layoffs can feel like adding insult to injury – and come back to hurt the reputation of your company.

Provide real support in helping team members find new work.

Provide references and reach out to your own professional network. When you help team members move on from a layoff, you demonstrate that the termination isn’t personal. You communicate that the team member has valuable skills, and you respect their work – it’s just that the business needed the work arrangement to end.


Layoffs are tough, but they are occasionally a necessary part of running a healthy business. When you’re ready to find a new contract professional or to hire a new long-term team member, get in touch with the recruiters at Avata Partners for all your legal staffing needs.