Allison Wright and Jessica Jacobs Discuss Layoffs and How to Do Them Right, If You Have To
November 27, 2023
Do we get the right outcomes from my office? Is there a good way of doing layoffs? What are the best practices from a people perspective? Do we manage this like any other strategy? And what alternatives, if any, should we consider?

Allison Wright is a visionary with a unique combination of realistic foresight and executable plans. She is a truly inclusive leader who is passionate about architecting a world where the power of people is unleashed to realize our best and most innovative solutions and that they are accessible to all. 

Jessica Jacobs is a dynamic force in the realm of leadership, known for her infectious positivity and a magnetic ability to connect with others. With a powerhouse of strengths including exceptional communication, strategic prowess, and a deep commitment to fostering inclusion, she has sculpted a career that goes beyond the ordinary.

In 2023, Jessica co-founded 3 Keys Consulting, LLC. with Allison Wright, working with organizations to unlock their future through transformation, change management and executive coaching by accelerating leadership engagement, engaging employees for faster change adoption and enhancing organization effectiveness. Together with their clients they are changing the way people think about business, creating value and transformation.

Make sure you discuss post layoff support, including counseling, you can also rebuild trust by using these strategies. While it's important to be cautious about what you promise for the future, transparent and honest communication is always key to rebuilding trust. It takes time takes effort, but it can be done.

If you have sound business practices related to assessing your organization and making adjustments as needed, you can minimize layoffs.

Develop a strategic workplace framework strategy for assessing success.

Strategic frameworks are essential to any successful organization and they must be regularly reviewed and updated against the business's strategy. This is not a static document, but a living evolving plan. Review it regularly to assess its relevance in the current business landscape, and update it as needed. By consistently applying these strategies, you can create a culture of strategic alignment within your organization. And this culture ensures that all decisions, whether big or small, are directly connected to your organization's strategy. These are general business practices that will ensure that you are strategically calibrating and optimizing your operations so that you can avoid layoff decisions and prioritize more cost-effective people-centered and performance driving decisions. Because as we know, you need to deliver on your results and outcomes, specially at your hardest times. Otherwise, you might need to consider layoffs. 

A Strategic Workforce Plan, and other ways of looking at your organization, always in good times and in bad, will help you from over hiring, especially in the good times.

Be careful how layoffs impact remaining team members.

Survivors are impacted by layoffs. And they are in a multitude of ways, including emotionally increase in work and potential for down burnout, burnout, decreased morale, and trust issues. And we have seen these in many ways when it comes to emotional impacts. Even employees when they're who are not directly impacted by layoffs can experience emotional distress, including survivor guilt and fear of future layoffs.

When it comes to increased workload, retained employees may need to take on additional responsibilities to compensate for the reduced workforce, potentially leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction. Decreased morale from layoffs can further lead to lower employee morale, as the workforce witnesses the departure of colleagues. The may become further demotivated due to all the uncertainty. 

If you're using employee engagement surveys, just remember, the levels of trust have diminished, so be cautious and how you interpret those results. After layoffs, it has been found that most employees won't answer these surveys honestly, for fear of losing their jobs. Even though they still have their jobs, retained employees may live with a sense of job insecurity. Fearing that they may be next if companies financial situations do not improve, especially if you've had a history of doing multiple layoffs. 

To care for your survivors. 

Make sure you discuss post layoff support, including counseling, you can also rebuild trust by using these strategies. While it's important to be cautious about what you promise for the future, transparent and honest communication is always key to rebuilding trust, takes time takes effort, but it can be done.

Focus on clear communications. 

Remember, open and honest communication can mitigate some of the negative effects of layoffs because oftentimes, in the absence of information, employees make up our own stories. And they're usually worse than what the reality is. Instead, communicating consciously, gracefully and with intent can change a layoff from a negative experience to one that builds trust. We heard an employee say that "Surviving the layoff was difficult. But my leader worked really hard to give me and other team members the space to grieve and share and made this really uncomfortable time a little more human."  So it is possible to get to a place of trust.

One of the questions we ask our clients is: is this decision strategic, necessary, ethical and empathetic? This question acts as a guidepost to ensure that everyone is going into this with their eyes wide open and ready to lead through a process that has the power to negatively impact many people, both personally and professionally and also the business as a whole.

How do you prevent layoffs from happening in the first place?

In our research, we found that there are a few alternatives to layoffs: virtual workspaces, job rotations, hiring freezes and voluntary separations and part time placements. 

How do you set aside relationship bias with people who have been on your team for a long time, when you have to make hard decisions, the hard decisions of layoffs?

I was somewhere last night, where somebody said, if you have a brain, you have a bias. So they exist. And I think the fact that you're even mentioning relationship bias shows that you're thinking about it, and you're trying to mitigate it. So it's there. It may not go away. 

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