Fresh Air Educators is a small company with a tight knit team. Turnover is low, but over the past 15 years we have had our share of layoffs.
Most businesses that operates long enough will eventually be in a situation where a team member is let go. Lay offs are a relatively rare occurrence for us and it’s not something we are particularly good at doing. Every situation is different and very stressful.
A decision to lay someone off usually comes after weeks or months of deliberation and after looking at all possible alternatives. It’s hard to do and we hate doing it.
We generally give a good severance package to give the employee more time to land on their feet (selfishly, it also helps relieve the feeling of guilt in letting them go). We also give letters of reference and offer to help in anyway we can.
But we are not great at pro-actively finding them a new job.
We often unconsciously think: “We gave them a good severance package, we gave them a good reference, we reached out to our contacts, now it’s up to them. Our job is done. Our responsibilities to the employee are done.”
Not quite. I believe that our responsibility to the employee isn’t done until they find their next job or career. When an employee leaves, we should proactively help them find their next job.
Besides being “the right thing to do” here are some specific business reasons why this is a good idea:
- Build goodwill for future opportunities: Your past employees will have a more positive attitude towards you and your business if they feel that you genuinely did your best to help them. They are less likely to hold a grudge and more likely to help you in the future when an opportunity presents itself.
- Strengthen relationships with current employees: Current employees will look to how you treat your past employees as an indication of how they will be treated when they leave.
- Reduced risk of harm to the business: The faster a past employee finds a new job, the less likely they are to get into a desperate financial situation, and the less likely they are to do something for financial gain that is against your best interest.
- Reduces the risk of violating a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement (NDA): If you help a former employee find a new job, the risk of them working for a competitor is reduced (since they already have a job). No need to try and enforce strict non-compete or NDA’s in place.
If you are a business owner and are laying someone off, consider going the extra mile to help that employee find their next job — I think it will have long term benefits for your business.