Profitability is the object of all businesses, whether they are small or large businesses. It is a given that organizations want to increase revenues and decrease costs. After all, companies want to report higher profits for their investors and shareholders. Therefore, it does not matter if we are in a pandemic; organizations must continuously take a head count and determine what people are required.
With that in mind, Human resources and Senior decision-makers often find themselves in positions where they may need to downsize the number of employees in their companies. Often these decision-makers must painstakingly consider what job functions can be reassigned to other employees and what employees need to be downsized.
When these decisions are made, family members of employees are directly or indirectly affected. For each person who is downsized, there is a multiplier effect of 2, 3, 4 or perhaps even five or more family members who may be impacted by the decision to restructure one person from the organization. These other family members are often dependent upon the decision-maker who has been restructured. The schooling, basic living requirements, and extra-curricular activities of all family members can be significantly impacted by the layoff of one family member.
Missed Opportunity for Compassion when Downsizing at Better.com
Now, let’s reflect on a layoff of 900 employees from Better.com. Given the possibility that the layoff may impact 3 or 4 family members on average for each employee, it can negatively affect many people. Many will remember how the news was delivered by its senior leader. All people were called into a video meeting and abruptly told that they did not have a job anymore. There were reports that the CEO wanted to give only one week’s severance pay to each laid-off employee. Media reported worldwide the cold manner with which a Better.com layoff notice was delivered to its employees. Many employees complained about the lack of empathy and consideration that affected the laid-off employee and their families.
Downsizing Preferred Practice
I suppose if there is anything I have learned in my 20+ years of career experience in working with employees who have been downsized, it is that consideration is a critical element in ensuring that notice is compassionately delivered to downsized employees.
Like communicating any bad news to anyone in life, it is essential that the HR Professional show compassion and consideration when planning to downsize each employee.
There is never a great time to downsize. However, please try not to lay off anyone just before or immediately after a holiday, birthday or another special day in a person’s life.
Many of us have been downsized in our careers. We know how we felt when the news was delivered. Whether you have been laid off or not, it is essential to self-check when you plan to downsize an individual. Continuously ask yourself throughout the entire layoff process how you would feel if it were you who was being laid off. By considering how you would feel if you were being laid off, let this be a guide to ensure that you plan and downsize an employee with the same compassion and care that you would want for yourself.
Compassionate Downsizing Guide
Do your research first. Become an expert on the laws and rights of an employee laid off. Learn and apply the laws concerning severance pay in the province where you are located. More importantly, be “fair and reasonable” for the time of service that the employee was with the organization.
Plan to do the downsizing in person, if possible. This has been complicated during a time of a pandemic or distance between the person who is delivering the news. Conduct the meeting ideally on a Tuesday or Wednesday (the middle of the week), and when you think fewer people may be present in the office. Schedule the meeting in a more isolated room from other employees or managers.
Learn as much as you can about the employee who is being downsized. Seek out information if they have a partner/spouse, family or friend that they can contact after the employee has been delivered the news.
Schedule a meeting on a day that is not on a birthday or religious holiday or is too closed to a special or an important day in the employee’s life.
Prepare and communicate a very well-planned message to the employee. Let them know that this layoff decision is a business decision. Although they may want to ask a lot of questions, keep to your prepared message, assuring the employee that the decision is a business decision and that you and other HR professionals in the company would like to help them as best as your company can, to navigate through this transition period as they look for new employment
After communicating the news about the downsizing to the employee, provide this employee with the opportunity to express his thoughts. Tell the employee that personnel in the HR department will do what they can to positively support them during this transition. Tell them that you empathize with their situation. Emphasize that you and your colleagues will do what they can to help them through the period of layoffs.
Offer them career transition or coaching support. Encourage the employee to utilize the services of an Outplacement Consultant that the company is offering them as this support will help them during this critical time in their life. If the company has an Employee Assistance Program, show them, Employee Assistance Program’s services.
Schedule a suitable day and time with the employee so that he/she can pick up his possessions.
Be prepared to offer the employee a taxi to drive home. Even if they have their car, they should still be offered a taxi. They and a friend should be picked up in the car later.
Offer a reference to employees if it is the company’s policy.
The above ideas are some recommendations a company’s HR professionals and managers should consider when downsizing an employee.
Downsizing is often not easy for the employee who has been downsized. In most cases, the company HR professional who delivers the news may be stressed and worried about providing the news to the laid-off employee. However, if proper time, consideration, and compassion are considered in the planning, preparing, and delivering the notice of a layoff, the event can occur more smoothly. And it should always be remembered that compassion and consideration should be provided to any employee who has been downsized.
People just starting their careers are impacted by COVID. People who were climbing the executive ladder are impacted too and so are people who aren’t ready to retire yet. With companies downsizing, sending some of their workforces off-shore, it has never been more important to stand out. We recently sat down with career coach, Brian Epstein AKA “The Success Coach” to get the inside scoop on the steps that you need to take in your job search. Epstein, a career management and leadership coach with over 20 years of experience, shared his tips to help in your job search:
Networking and How to Find That Network
Networking is important because statistically, you have between 65%-85% greater chance of getting a job. People feel more comfortable hiring someone that has been referred to them. That personal connection builds trust with the person that is hiring.
Whether you have lived in Canada or have recently immigrated, you can build a network through friends and personal contacts. If you are new to the country, there are people within your own community who may be able to help you in your job search. Remember, you are speaking with people all the time. They don’t have to be part of a formal network. It can be someone from your apartment that you chat with on a regular basis. Be open, for example, you can state that, “I am an IT professional and I’m interested in learning more about what’s going on in that field. Do you know anyone who works in that field that can provide me with more information?”
By speaking to more people, you can find out more about what’s happening in your field. People in your network can help spread the word that you are looking for a job and maybe able to provide the connection that you need in your job search.
Building Your Resume for ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and for Hiring Managers
Make a T-Chart or use Word or Excel table. On the left-hand side list what the employer is looking for if there is a job description available. On the right-hand side, list the skills that you have and try to make a match with what you have done in your past and how it fits with that specific role. If there isn’t a job description, speak to people and build that network. Try to find people that work or have worked in that particular company or in that industry. They may be able to provide some insights into the key attributes that are most important in hiring for that position.
There are online tools that people can use to find the ideal keywords for resumes. You can add in the job description and it will tell you the percentage of the match between you and your prospective job. If the percentage is too low, you can change some of the wording or review the description again. You can look at sites that give you insight into ATS tools like Jobscan as well.
Tips for Creating Your Cover Letter
Sometimes people actually provide too much detail in their cover letter. Keep in mind that we are living in a fast-paced world and people want things brief. Epstein recommends having four paragraphs:
A brief introduction of what skills that you have and why you are excited about the position. Make sure that you express that passion and enthusiasm in the introductory paragraph
Go into more detail about your skill-set versus what the job is asking for. Then, stress how your experience makes you the right fit for the role
Do research about the company and the industry restating that you understand what the company’s core values are. Then, reinforce how their values align with your own
The final paragraph should include that you would welcome the opportunity to meet at a suitable date to discuss the role
Refer back to the job description to ensure that you are hitting the keywords. Be careful not to copy and paste everything verbatim from the description. You want to have a match but not have all of the wording be the exactly the same.
LinkedIn – What You Need to Know
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with Linked In is just copying and pasting their resume. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see a narrative of your background. On a resume, you shouldn’t use personal pronouns. On LinkedIn, however, you can be more personal in your background. The background should give very high-level details about you. That way, if a potential employer reads nothing else, they get a good sense of what you have accomplished in your career.
Underneath each position that you held, give an overview of your accomplishments, key strengths and skills that employers would be interested in. Remember, statistically, 93%-94% of employers will research you online and LinkedIn is one of the top places that they will look. LinkedIn may be even more important than your resume in getting you that job. People often Google candidates to see what comes up. LinkedIn is almost always at the top of the search results.
Acing a Virtual Interview
Focus on having good eye contact. Remember, you have to rely on reading facial cues versus body language. Try to make sure that you are looking at the camera instead of trying to look at people’s faces in the computer screen so that it doesn’t appear that you are looking down. Choose a professional looking background. If you can, make sure that your phones are off and that there are no other disruptions.
Are Thank You Notes Essential?
They are and outside of the pandemic, it is nice to send one by regular post. It’s really important to send an email within the first 24 hours after your interview. Reiterate your skills and experience in the thank you note and why you are the right fit for this role.
To be a successful leader who excels in your industry and cultivates the best employees, it’s important to look both to the past and to the future. The new year is to be a good time to think about, for example, time-management techniques. After all, don’t you want your business environment and employees to be as efficient and productive as possible?
Maybe you’re also thinking about refining your digital presence and sharing the wealth of wisdom you’ve accumulated as a corporation. Are you doing a SWOT review? Perhaps a thorough examination of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats can help you prepare going into the new year.
As a Business Coach that helps companies review their end-year results and look ahead, I have found this to be true. One of your most strategic initiatives is the people who make up your workforece. I believe that the success of your company comes directly from treating people well. Here are a few ways
There are easy ways to instill loyalty and keep your employees happy. Send brief personal letters to employees thanking them for their particular achievements can be a great holiday gesture. It maybe even more important in the new year, when the festivities have wound down, and normal/abnormal business life returns. Humanity in the corporate world can pay great dividends, and definitely show a strong ROI.
Consider being a mentor when you can – sharing the gift of your years of experience to help someone just starting out. Take time to develop corporate mentorship programs. When done right, these programs can highly benefit employees, their managers and the bottom line.
The year-end is also often a great time to find and hire top talent. It’s equally a good time to think about creating and developing leadership training. Professional development is what leaders, management and other employees want. Investment in professional development is the kind of ‘gift’ that lasts year-round and beyond. A dedicated leadership program will help your business grow and create those happy employees.
Even the most successful leader, manager, company owner and CEO can also benefit from expert coaching. A seasoned, versatile outsider who understand your business and its people. They can help give you valuable perspective and input you that you may be too close to see.
As it’s the season of gift-giving, I have the perfect item for you: my free downloadable e-book, ‘The Top 5 Advantages of Hiring A Business Coach.’ Set up an appointment with me to help focus on and define the guidance you need to be the best leader of the best people. Think of it as a gift for the future.
Here’s to a great new year of success – for all of us!
As a business coach, one of the many that things I discuss with clients is how to achieve your goals within the framework of your company name and identity. I often have to get one fact out of the way first – that, yes, my given name is the same as the famous manager of The Beatles. But I don’t work in music. This is where brand identity can be confusing.
My business definition as ‘Success Coach’ should make it clear. I’m here to help companies succeed. As a business coach, I can help guide you towards success in many ways. For example, your corporate identity, brand image and name can stand tall or fall based on your company’s actions and reputation.
Consider Wells Fargo, longtime multinational financial-services company. It’s now also known for the scandal of creating over 2 million fake bank accounts by their own employees. The firm had an uphill battle to fix their reputation. This is definitely getting into damage control, and we’ll talk more about that in another blog post.
General advice about naming a company includes: Watch synonyms and mashups. It shouldn’t need a mini-manual. People should get it right away. And most of all, the name should *stand for something*.
Apple is a ‘rule-breaker’ because the name doesn’t actually tell you what the company does. It’s all about brand positioning. People get it right away. It’s as famous as The Beatles ever were, and most people use their products, everyday. A name that big has to be very accountable, and maintain a position of excellence.
Whatever industry you’re in, your name and brand identity are part of what determines how successful you are. In order to achieve your goals, you should be able to answer:
What do you and your company represent?
What are the most important goals you’re working to achieve?
How does the general public perceive your brand?
A strong identity built on a strong foundation can be very powerful. And a business coach who works regularly with CEOs and managers of medium – and large-sized companies, can bring you the outside-inside perspective. Contact me for:
The other day, I read about the recent Power of 4 Event, in Pointe Claire, QC, run by motivational sales analyst Marcie Balaban of the website Let’s Get Going. She brings entrepreneurs and upper management of companies together in a way that is business matchmaking. In elegant surroundings, she carves out a direct meeting between the two. She does this in business disciplines from electronics to real estate, with a common purpose – finding trading partners and referral sources.
There are times when I think about some of the clients I work well with, and how well they work with other people. Let’s face it, we match-make every day, even if we don’t call it that. Will this new employee fit well with our company culture? Can this caterer provide service for our upcoming event that has at least three vegans? Will my upcoming date-night have the potential of providing me with a permanent partner or a gym buddy?
Business Matchmaking: Dragons’ Den Versus Shark Tank
Business matchmaking reality shows like Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank also show us that there’s a definite process and growing connection between potential partners. This has as much to do with the heart as with the head and finances. An eager entrepreneur and a venture capitalist are a match! Sometimes they even hug, and there’s the occasional glint of tears on both sides.
Although the shows are similar, there are some dragon/shark differences. In a Financial Post Magazine article, panelist Kevin O’Leary said, “As a shark I get a pre-pack of where they came from, history, what school they went to. I know more about them as individuals.” And, as follow-up episodes show, the matches can pay off big time.
The common purpose is key here. Both parties in a business deal want it to succeed. They’re coming at it from different places, with different levels of action, experience and contribution. They each have expertise and particular money concerns. Information is exchanged. A connection is made, grows, ignites. That match has the potential to knock your socks off, with two passionate experts at their best.
Hire a “Shark” of Your Own
Need some input and coaching on how to make the best matches in your company? Looking for a business coach to help you scale your business or secure a new partner – and who’s a great match for you?
There’s a great way to find out if you and I are a match. Contact me today to find out.