What Does A Layoff Do To Employer Branding?
You’ve worked hard to build your company culture and your employer brand, but now you’re about to hand down a round of layoffs. How will laying off employees threaten the hard work you’ve put into branding, and what can you do to limit the impact?
Every move your company makes affects your brand. While this means that a layoff will impact your brand, the way you make the decision and treat your employees – both those exiting and those staying – throughout the process can also affect your brand as an employer. There’s no better time to talk about this than now, while retailers face what has been dubbed the “Retail Apocalypse” by media, closing thousands of stores and laying off tens of thousands of workers. General Motors, Lowe’s, and Athena Health are among others who have recently announced layoffs and worked to protect their brand throughout the process.
How does a layoff change the way others perceive your employer brand?
Well, it’s most impactful for your current employees, who may see the company as a volatile or unpredictable place to work. And when your current and exiting employees share those fears with the world through word of mouth and on online platforms like kununu, it can impact your potential employees, too, making it difficult to recruit and retain top talent.
Smart customers also take layoffs and other business practices into consideration when deciding which businesses to support; while layoffs might inevitable, handling layoffs professionally and in a way that minimizes impact on employees is expected from the business and social-savvy consumer.
So what can you do to navigate a layoff with ease?
Try these tips:
- Partner with an outplacement services provider, who can assist employees in working through emotional and financial problems caused by job loss, update their resume, connect them with open positions, introduce them to organizations that can assist financially, and coach them through the interview process. Outplacement services help employees leave feeling positive and focused on the next step in their careers, which also limits the hit your brand takes when they hit the review platforms.
- Respond to every online review, whether positive or negative. Acknowledge the efforts and contributions of employees leaving positive reviews and thank employees with negative feedback for their honesty, which only helps you get better at what you do every day. Always reinforce your mission, which reinforces your brand and your culture. Here are some examples:
- “I’m very disappointed to hear of your experience; it doesn’t reflect our mission or vision and we’re so sorry it happened.”
- “Thank you for changing lives with us; we’re so glad you share our vision.”
- Be transparent with employees throughout the entire process. If there’s a restructure coming, the only right way to address it is head on, with transparency and human empathy. Don’t sugar coat the truth and don’t deliver the truth with stoicism; employees deserve the freedom to experience emotions and feel accepted and supported as they work through the process.
- Give fair warning. We understand it’s not always an option, but take the responsibility to give fair warning seriously. Know your numbers, know when you’re in trouble, and recognize the need to lay off early so employees have time to find other ways to put food on the table and satisfy their need to earn and contribute.
A layoff will undoubtedly impact your brand, but if you approach it with authentic empathy, invested in the health and well-being of the contributors you’re letting go, it can actually impact your brand in a positive way despite the disappointing turn of events.
Interested in more free resources to help you maintain a healthy employer brand? Our resources pages has tons more useful information for company leaders and HR & Talent Acquisition pros [HERE].