This month, the CEO of Better.com made headlines after laying off 900 employees on a Zoom call. In a three-minute video call, CEO Vishal Garg informed employees they were being terminated and could expect an email from HR shortly.
Terminated employees will receive a month’s pay and three months of benefits. Nonetheless, many employees found the way they were let go jarring, and Garg received a lot of backlash in the media for the way he handled the layoffs. According to one former employee, their company-issued laptop went dark shortly after the call was over.
Laying off employees is never easy, and no one ever wants to hear they’ve been fired — much less three weeks before the holidays. But the way you let go of employees says something about your company, and there are right and wrong ways to go about it.
Ideally, employers will break this type of news in person, but that isn’t always possible due to the ongoing pandemic. So if Zoom layoffs are unavoidable, here are four tips for handling them.
1. Figure out the logistics ahead of time
In addition to figuring out how you’ll break the news to your employees, you want to make sure you understand the technology ahead of time. It’s a good idea to do a practice run-through ahead of time to ensure everything is working the way it’s supposed to.
And make sure the call is secure so no unexpected guests can hack your call. Keep your meeting ID private, require a password, and disable guest screen sharing.
2. Give employees a sense of what’s coming
There’s something particularly jarring about being laid off in your own home. And that’s especially true if the layoff isn’t performance-related and due to budgetary reasons.
While there’s no way to get around it, you can give employees a chance to prepare themselves emotionally. Let employees know ahead of time that the meeting is to discuss changes within the company and to find a private place to participate in the call.
3. Be honest and empathetic
You want to be empathetic to what your employees are going through. And the best way to show empathy is by being as honest and transparent as possible. Explain the company’s situation and why you’re laying off employees.
If the call is one-on-one, you should be prepared to answer questions. However, that may not be possible if you’re laying off several people at once. In that case, have a counselor available to talk to employees after the call.
4. Explain what the next steps are
And finally, you want to be very clear about the next steps. Let them know your next steps and what action steps you need them to take.
Let employees know when they will be contacted by HR about benefits and when they’re expected to turn in company assets. You’ll also have to work with HR and the IT department to figure out when it’s appropriate to shut down an employee’s access to the network.