As the Pink Slip Falls--How to Manage a Layoff

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An article in on April 4, 2012 announced that Yahoo will lay off 2,000 of its 14,000 workers.  One out of seven Yahoo employees will get a pink slip, while the rest will either try to stay under the radar, look for another job or jockey for a better position in the new, leaner company.  While employees are scrambling and coping with the change, management should be busy planning a strategy to complete the layoffs, reorganize the company, and figure out how to salvage morale and company loyalty. 


Easier said than done.  The recession has made just about every worker aware that they may be the next one filing for unemployment benefits.  All this instability erodes company loyalty, productivity and morale.  Since layoffs span all levels and departments, the same malaise that affects the production line operator affects the supervisor, manager and department head.  Wherever you are on the organization chart when the pink slips start falling, you can manage your reaction and actions to come out on top.


1.      If you’re an employee, you have several choices.


a.      Become invisible.  Keep your opinions to yourself, don’t make waves, do your job and be cooperative.  Not bad advice, but if you really didn’t make much of a contribution or impact, a pink slip may have your name on it. 

b.      Get your game on.  Put forth 110%, be a team player and don’t complain.  Keep a positive attitude.  This may be your last chance to stay off the “cut” list.

c.       Update your resume and start looking for another job.  The best time to look is when you’re already employed.  Leave the stress behind and get on with your next opportunity.


2.      If you’re a manager, take action.


a.      Work with the management team to reorganize with the remaining employees.  Put together a plan and work it.

b.      Be honest about the layoff and future plans.  Nothing is worse than uncertainty.  Over-communicate and be available for questions or just a quick conversation. 

c.       Set clear expectations.  The “survivors” will want to know what it will take to stay employed.  Share the company’s new mission and plans for growth.  Let employees know how they fit in the new company and what it will take to succeed.


3.      If you get a pink slip, don’t panic.


a.      Know what you’re entitled to.  Some companies offer severance plans for long-term employees.  Get information on continuation of benefits (COBRA), your last day and when you receive your final paycheck. Turn in all your uniforms or other company-owned supplies or equipment to avoid deductions from your final check. 

b.      Take advantage of any outplacement resources.  Some companies offer resume writing and interviewing workshops. 

c.       Explore working for the company as a consultant or contract employee.  It can help bridge the gap until you find another job or open up a new career as an entrepreneur.

d.      Apply for unemployment compensation.  You’ll be eligible if you were laid off through no fault of your own.  Put your ego aside.  The extra cash will come in handy and help reduce the stress of unemployment. 


If you’re caught in a layoff, don’t be a spectator or a victim.  Assess your position and options and take action.  Remind yourself of all the things you hated about the job and consider it a stroke of luck to be finally moving on.  A positive attitude can help you make a fresh start.   Add your own ideas on layoff survival in the Comments section below.


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