Role of HR in Safeguarding Organization’s Reputation Amid Layoffs

Layoffs can damage an employer’s brand if the situation is mishandled.
Role of HR in Safeguarding Organization’s Reputation Amid Layoffs

Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and philanthropist, once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” While he may not have been referring to layoffs, the sentiment is particularly relevant in such scenarios.


Layoffs, an unfortunate yet inevitable aspect of business, can significantly damage an employer’s reputation. According to Neil Costa, founder and CEO of recruitment marketing agency HireClix, layoffs can make it harder for HR to recruit and retain employees. This is especially true when layoffs are widespread and show no signs of slowing down. For instance, employers, including Apple, Ericsson, and Chrysler parent Stellantis, cut 90,309 jobs in March, up 7% from February and the most since January 2023, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.


In such challenging times, HR professionals play a crucial role in safeguarding their organization’s reputation. Here’s how they can do it:


Clear, Concise Communication

HR should prioritize clear, concise communication. They should share as much information as possible, especially about the reasoning for the cuts. By being straightforward, HR can help eliminate confusion, as well as misinformation. As Costa puts it, “Layoffs are going to happen, it’s not like we can avoid them. So [make] sure that the communication is straight, open, and honest.”


Support for Laid-off Employees

HR should also provide laid-off employees with resources that can make their transition less overwhelming. Outplacement services, for example, can help laid-off workers draft resumes, network, and prepare for interviews. HR should aim to keep the lines of communication open with laid-off employees to remind them of the resources at their disposal.


Don’t Forget About Those Who Remain

HR should prioritize open, honest communication with remaining employees, too. They should share what employees should expect to happen next. “Employees want to know if something else is coming,” Costa said. “There is a level of confidence that they want to hear, like, ‘Look, we made this cut deep enough so we’re not going to have to do it again.’”


The last thing employees want to hear after a layoff is, “We’ll see how next quarter goes,” Costa said. “That’s pretty unnerving.” The same goes for potential employees, who won’t want to join an organization if it’s risky.


“Layoff and reorganizations are always challenging, despite being part of the natural cycle of business in general,” Costa said “HR professionals need to be the stewards of open, transparent, and empathetic communication from top management to employees who remain.”


In conclusion, while layoffs are a challenging aspect of business, they don’t have to spell disaster for an organization’s reputation. With clear communication, support for laid-off employees, and a focus on those who remain, HR can help navigate these difficult times and safeguard the organization’s reputation. As Warren Buffett’s quote reminds us, the way we handle such situations can make all the difference.

Stay tuned, to for further updates on the evolving workplace paradigm. 


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