More than 26 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits in the last five weeks. In addition, the unemployment rate is projected to rapidly increase due to the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. I interviewed Chantel McHenry, Senior Manager of Operations at Vanderbloemen, on how businesses can lovingly restructure and lay off staff during COVID-19. Chantel shared tangible, quick tips to manage this challenging situation.Pray. Begin by praying for guidance and wisdom on when and how layoffs need to take place. God's hands are the safest place to entrust such large decisions.Prepare the necessary paperwork. This includes layoff and furlough letters, as well as talking points for those conducting the meetings to ensure consistency across the board.Meet with your entire staff. Be honest and loving as you discuss the financial situation of your organization and explain the facts and reasoning behind layoffs and furloughs for the company. Also, take the time to talk about your next steps so everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect after the staff meeting. Be honest about what's to come, but be careful not to make lofty promises since this is such an uncertain time.
- This should be a video-conference meeting rather than a phone call. Reading body language during tough discussions help employees feel greater trust and connection.
- Include a third-party member from the leadership team, like your HR professional, in the meeting to assist with the conversation. This provides support to you as the leader, and to the employee receiving the news.
- Include the days and times of when someone will be available at the office for them to return their items and pack their belongings in the office. Make a full list for them to walk through to take the work off them in this stressful time.
It is always challenging for leaders to implement layoffs and furloughs, especially during a global crisis when it cannot be done face to face. We are praying for all leaders who have to walk through this tough season during COVID-19. For more tips from Chantel, see this blog article on HR Best Practices in a Crisis.
Holly Tate is the vice president of Business Development at Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.