October 16, 2008

A colleague asked for my views on the reported lay-off at Jet Airways affecting around 1900 employees.

Well, it is unfortunate. No doubt in that.

But perhaps that was a necessity to manage the economic downturn. Just as massive job creation happens when economy is rapidly growing, there is a serious possibility of lay-off when the economy goes into a tailspin after a long period of prosperity. Economic activity, by nature, is cyclical. Neither good things nor bad things last forever. Lay-off is a reality that has to be faced sometimes. There is no escape.

At the same time, lay-off needs to be handled with utmost fairness and sensitivity as it affects lives. Serious efforts should be taken to minimize pain for the employees who are being laid-off.

Lay-off can be made more human by keeping in mind the following:
  1. Communicate the decision on a personal level, preferably through a face to face meeting. Avoid email or SMS to communicate it.
  2. Bring empathy to the table.
  3. Clearly communicate the reasons behind lay-off.
  4. Be well prepared to answer the question: "Why I?"
  5. Don't utter a single word that can hurt the self-confidence of the person being laid-off. Instead, focus on building his confidence by reminding of his unique strengths and how they can be utilized in other companies/ industries.
  6. Offer to help in personal capacity and to provide references, if you can, for helping in getting a new job.
  7. Provide reasonable notice period and severance package to help him through the crisis.

It would still hurt but definitely the pain would be lesser and manageable.