Best practices for hiring workers during mass layoffs

Expert details best practices, things to avoid during this challenging time

Best practices for hiring workers during mass layoffs

Numerous organizations have had to do mass layoffs in the previous months. However, some organizations that have gone through this process are also hiring new workers.

For many, this is all about restructuring, says Chandrashekar LSP, Zoho’s Canada head, in talking with HRD Canada.

“They have to approach it from a strategic standpoint,” he says. 

Employers can do this by letting go of redundancies and hiring new workers who can “infuse fresh blood” to the organization, according to LSP.

“They say: ‘We're going to control costs,’ and then the first thing that they do is adopt mass layoffs. But that doesn't mean that the business has to be shut down. There has to be some replacements that have to happen for some of the roles that have been made redundant.”

UPS, Levi Strauss and eBay, among others, have announced mass layoffs earlier this year. 

What are the best practices for hiring during mass layoffs?

So how should employers approach hiring during mass layoffs?

Being transparent about business challenges to jobseekers is key, says LSP. 

“You have to acknowledge the broader economic climate, and share how the company has navigated past challenges or how you plan to tackle the challenges in the future. There has to be absolute transparency around that, because planning builds trust [and] because both candidates and company need to be realistic about the situation that they are in.”

Employers must also communicate why the layoffs happened in the first place.

“You cannot communicate enough to gain a candidate's trust,” says LSP. “And then the most important thing is to be very clear in your communication.”

Employers must also explain to jobseekers what the organization is doing to deal with the challenges. 

“Specifically, talk about strategies; strategies that you are putting in place to deal with the challenges and how this hiring is also a part of that strategic initiative that [your’re] taking.”

It’s also important for employers to explain why the company is hiring to workers who remain with the employer after a mass layoff, says LSP.

“Tell your existing people that ‘These are things that are happening’ and why certain departments are seeing certain changes, and how this change may or may not impact them. 

“There has to be enough communication and clarification as to why this is happening in the first place and what [employers] want to do to existing employees. That's an important thing.”

Employers need to be very clear about how they are dealing with the challenges.

“It's important that you take a step back as an organization, and be honest and truthful about the situation,” he says.

Canada’s Wonderland, PepsiCo and others previously announced hiring campaigns for this year.

What not to say or do hiring during mass layoffs

There are also things to avoid for employers who are hiring during mass layoffs, says LSP.

For one: “There is so much social pressure around every new hire coming up and showing the goodies and everything that they've been given as a part of the onboarding process,” he says. “I think there has to be some kind of subtle message to every new employee to play it down.”

There should some sensitivity around the hiring process, he says.

Employers must also avoid making a big show in case they go into hiring events while laying off workers in bulk, says LSP.

“[That’s] nonsense, in my view. In my world view, that's not to be done. You have got to be very sympathetic to what is happening.”

“Having empathy to people who have been laid off on one hand and [being] empathetic to people in the organization who probably have now turned into friends have also been laid off. Being sympathetic with them and [show] some empathy.”

Employers must also avoid overpromising to new hires about job security or how quickly they can advance or “other aspects of the role that cannot be guaranteed in the current financial climate that we’re in”.

“Setting unrealistic expectations is a strict no no,” he says.

Lastly, employers must make changes to their hiring princess, says LSP.

“You have to adjust the hiring process to reflect the new realities. So you cannot be just doing the same thing that you did in the past…

“The process should now reflect a deeper consideration on the company's direction that you're going, the necessity for that role, and an absolute justification of why this hiring is even happening in the face of layoffs. So there has to be absolute clarity on that.”

Here is the best way to handle layoffs, according to one expert.

*Zoho is not going through mass layoffs as of writing of this article.

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