December 17, 2021
Last week Better.com CEO Vishal Garg announced on a Zoom webinar that the mortgage company is laying off about 900 employees who were on the call, he told them they could expect an email from HR detailing benefits and severance.
Garg cited changes in the market, “efficiency” and “productivity” as the reasons behind the mass termination. The three minute call did not go down well: “They dumped us like trash. We were there since the beginning and worked hard for the company and for our roles”.
At one point during the call Garg said “This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried.” Yes, well, this is not helpful; in the background people could be heard protesting, they are being made redundant two weeks before Christmas, and his feelings are the least of their worries.
A better approach
Whether you are letting go one person, 70 people or 700 people they deserve to be treated with consideration and respect; the slaughterhouse approach shows Garg and his operation in a very poor light.
If you have decided you must let people go there are better ways to handle the announcement. If you are making a lot of people redundant it is best to get people into small groups then their team leader should relay the bad news, even if personally affected by the decision.
- Ideally the news should be imparted by someone who knows those affected
- Explain what you are doing and why, give context and reason
- Explain what is going to happen next, set up one-to-one conversations with each team member to discuss their settlement and establish what you can do to help them
Arrange to have HR and outplacement consultants on hand for those who need someone to talk to. As a minimum an organisation should arrange and outplacement programme so that professional help enables those made redundant to find new roles quickly.
Respect and reputation
It is never easy but whether you’re making 7 or 700 people redundant but there is a ‘golden rule’ don’t ever say “I know how you feel”. You don’t know that; we all react differently, some will need more time than others to process the news and while some will be sad or angry others will be philosophical and, possibly, relieved.
Give those you have made redundant time to assimilate the news and then encourage them to take advantage of outplacement services. Outplacement protects your company brand and reputation, it demonstrates corporate responsibility with regards to staff, and offers services such as access to advice, research and networking connections.
In our social media savvy world it is easy to damage a carefully nurtured employer brand; those who air their grievances may impact productivity and adversely affect recruitment activity. Leavers will be talking to head-hunters, competitors, clients and suppliers and it better if they describe the organization favourably; it is more than likely that some employee you let go today may be a potential future customer and others whom the organization may wish to rehire in the future.