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Blog: How to Anticipate and React to a Layoff

The scenario: It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Friday morning and your employer says to you, “Would you step into my office please?”

In the office your boss and someone from Human Resources politely tell you that the company has to down size due to the economy. Or that your position is being eliminated in a consolidation. Or, you are included in a mass layoff.

The plan: Devote some time to thinking about and planning for the best achievable solution in the event of a layoff. Preparation and planning will significantly aid you in both departure and in sustainability (life after layoff).

Departure: Suggest flexible alternatives – a reduction to part-time, transfer to another position, or a creative arrangement. If the position is unequivocally eliminated, however, obtain the details of a separation package. Prepare, know, and articulate your separation requirements in response to the separation offer. If there is no offer, counter with at least:

  • Severance. Obtain a reasonable amount of pay periods to continue being paid even if you are terminated.
  • Assistance. Obtain employer-paid outplacement services from an appropriate outplacement company.
  • Benefits. Cobra, continuing health benefits must be offered, but think of other benefits in your compensation package that might be helpful during your transition.
  • Reference. Obtain written references from key leaders or managers. Ask to remain in contact.
  • Network. Inquire into positions elsewhere in the company. Ask if you can continue to contact employees in the company about contacts they may have in other work places.
  • Customize this list with forethought according to your unique situation.

Sustainability: Write down an exit strategy and be well rehearsed before a layoff arises. Prepare, rehearse, be professional, and negotiate a reasonable package. Include good-will. If you ensure leaving on good terms, negotiation is more effective and references or continuing assistance in employment is more likely.

Practice for a professional and level-headed response to a layoff. This is a time for survival, not emotion. It’s not about your ego, it’s about your career. It’s a self-written insurance policy to help if and when you need it. If you fly off the handle, become defensive, or react unprofessionally, you could lose a separation package and future good-will in obtaining employment. Prepare in advance for the best outcome. Doing your best in this tumultuous time will lower emotional detritus and heighten existence in employability. Success means you are better situated to move on and launch your next transitional journey, starting Monday.

Neal enjoys sharing knowledge with students at the Community College of Aurora as an adjunct faculty under the Paralegal Program. A Certified Commercial Contracts Manager and CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP™), Neal helps organizations achieve success by managing their procurement, sales, and other business transactions.

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