In part one of this series, I explored how to minimise the negative impact of having to lay off staff remotely rather than in-person – a sad reality of our post-COVID world – by delivering the news with sensitivity and empathy.
In this article, I’ll be looking at practical ways for employers to support their outgoing employees in the aftermath of lay-offs, in order to help them deal with the complex emotions they may be feeling and move forward with confidence and positivity.
First of all, let’s consider the possible range of emotional responses that might be experienced by your staff members upon learning of their job loss. According to a study by Stanford University, potential emotional reactions to losing a job include:
- Loss of enjoyment or appreciation
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of self-esteem
While losing your job is emotionally distressing at the best of times, the lack of personal support or physical interaction resulting from COVID-19 restrictions is likely to mean a person’s emotional response to the news of a job loss will be heightened during these times.
As a responsible employer, it’s crucial to treat your former staff members with compassion and respect, proactively offering the support they need to cope with their emotions, help them come to terms with the news of their job loss, and assist them in staying focused and motivated during their career transition.
If you’ve had to lay off staff members remotely due to COVID-19, here are some of the ways you can support your outgoing employees:
1. Maintain contact and communication
Once you’ve informed your staff members about their lay-off, it’s important to remain available and in contact rather than immediately cutting ties. Making it clear to outgoing employees that they are welcome to reach out with queries or for a follow-up discussion can prevent them from feeling abandoned by your organisation.
Following the initial lay-off announcement, consider arranging a scheduled follow-up meeting so you can check-in with former staff members and discuss their emotional wellbeing. This proactive approach can ensure outgoing employees feel they are receiving ongoing support, as well as maintaining a sense of connection.
Another way to ensure open communication about the situation relating to staff lay-offs is to create a dedicated resource – such as an FAQ document – which provides more information for outgoing employees. For example, this could cover aspects such as why COVID-19 has required your organisation to let staff go, what the outlook is for the company, and who former employees can contact if they still have questions.
2. Offer resources for support and help
If staff members are struggling to deal with the emotional fall-out of losing their jobs and are experiencing feelings of depression, stress or anxiety, aim to provide a list of professional resources and support services that can offer the help they need. Some employers provide departing employees with access to Employee Assistance Programs. If not then, consider these other resources:
- Advising on counselling options: Details of professional counsellors and psychologists can be found on the Australia Counselling website
- Offering details of support groups: The Black Dog Institute has a list of local support groups focusing on a variety of mental health issues
- Providing a list of websites that deal with stress, depression and anxiety: A range of resources can be found on the Beyond Blue website
3. Provide practical help for their career transition
Losing your job during COVID-19 is particularly challenging (and scary) given the current state of the job market and the reduced opportunities available. If you can, try to assist your former employees by offering practical career help, such as through introductions to your network.
A simple LinkedIn post advising your network of available talent or a quick email introduction to a connection can provide a valuable resource that makes a significant difference to the outgoing employee. In addition, offering to write a positive reference or recommendation letter can be a great way of providing practical support.
4. Offer support through an outplacement program
Offering outplacement services to your former employees can provide them with the comprehensive support and guidance they need during their career transition. An outplacement program can assist in dealing with the impact of job loss, help participants stay focused and motivated, and equip them with the skills and knowledge to navigate their ongoing career journey.
To enable employers to support their outgoing employees in a COVID-19 environment, Career365 offers 100% online outplacement programs designed to help staff members who’ve been laid off in the wake of the global pandemic. To find out more about our online outplacement programs, visit career365.com.au