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Public Relations

You Gotta Have Heart, Especially When Cutting Jobs

Heart and soul. That’s what committed, passionate employees put into their jobs. But what happens when a company needs to let employees go? How do they show that heart and soul? Not be doing what HuffPost did.

The international media company cut positions, but in a ham-fisted manner.

Notifying employees via a meeting invite to attend a virtual gathering and then telling them that those who did not receive an email by a certain time would be assured that they had a job is no way to appear concerned or caring. And it sure isn’t right. It’s wrong at every level.

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You can go your own way…

The days of decades of corporate loyalty are dead. Long dead. Employees, nor employers are faithful to one another. Everybody can go their separate ways at any time. Some states offer more protection for employees, some less. South Carolina is a “right to work” state where employees may be let go for no cause, without notice. But the ability to separate employees from your company does not call for heartlessness. It calls for compassion. Being let go is a source of grief. Panic. Fear.

If you’re in the working world, you surely have experienced the loss of a job. It’s a difficult experience. One which provokes many feelings: Of loss, of grief, of fear. To be told you no longer have a paycheck suddenly feels like the (financial) floor has been pulled out from underneath you. Because let’s face it, we work for money, not fun. Yeah, we get told that we can have fun at work and that our work should be fun, but the paycheck is the vital quid pro quo that most of us expect. As adults, we do know we ought to save money for a rainy day, like when our job is cut, but many work paycheck to paycheck.

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During the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic, companies have had to cut jobs. People understand this. But cutting jobs with a personal touch is imperative.

Show compassion

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Companies who care show how they care with carefully thought out methods of notification, outplacement services, and support for departing employees gain. Simply saying to someone, “You’ll know you have a job if you don’t get an email,” ignores compassion. It displays a distinct lack of caring.

A brand is the sum of every interaction someone has with your company or product or organization. You can have the best products, the best sales staff, the best corporate HQ and leave policies, but if you eliminate jobs in a heartless manner, showing no compassion, it will impact your brand reputation. Brand reputation is an essential part of the value of your company. But showing your company’s humanity is not about money, it’s about being decent. Doing the right thing. For the right reasons.

Be human. Respect the people. Be caring.

If you find your company in the difficult situation of having to cut jobs, stop and think of how the departing employees feel. Build compassion into the process of notification and separation. To do less than this will create a crisis for your firm. Guaranteed. As with HuffPost, you’ll find your company at the center of a social media crisis. You’ll receive vastly more negative attention than you anticipate. Most likely, the savings you may have gained by cutting positions will be lost from your brand equity because you did not plan in advance. And the company will have a more damaged profile among job-seekers. Because they will know that their heart and soul is not respected at your company.

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