How to Lay Someone Off with Care, Compassion and Dignity

March 28, 2023

A few days after being let go, a Philadelphia-based content marketing professional posted on LinkedIn: “Here’s what getting laid off feels like: You just got hit by a bus. And now, before you’ve had a chance to assess your injuries or even collect your stuff that’s scattered all over the street, you have to catch another bus. But do you really want to get back on a thing that just hit you? Are you even capable of walking to the bus stop? Do you have bus fare? Do you still have a wallet? You don’t know.” They go on to explain that the following period after being fired is spent in a daze, wherein “you don’t even know where you’re supposed to go or where you even want to go.”

For some HR managers, knowing they have to fire someone brings an awareness that they are creating this disorienting and upsetting confusion for someone else, and that can be difficult. For others, they aren’t aware or concerned about those feelings; they’re just moving through their pile of tasks without much care. Either way, laying someone off can be downright devastating. But there’s a right way to do it, for the dignity of the former employee and yourself.

The American Psychological Association addresses the potential severity and impact losing a job can have on an employee. In the article, Carl Van Horn, Ph.D., professor of public policy at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, explains that “losing a job and being unemployed for a long period of time is a psychological trauma and a financial trauma, and the two are closely intertwined.” Since the Great Resignationa recent Bankrate survey finds, “More than half (or 56%) of those who found a new, better-paying job say they’re worried about their job security, with 19% saying they’re ‘very worried.’” Compassionate managers are unlikely to want to impart this struggle on someone else, even though their bottom line demands it. So, having concrete guidelines to be most respectful and helpful can help reduce the potential for trauma.

Success, March 28, 2023

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