Train, Train, Train

After all the high level management meetings and legal review, the implementation and communication of a reduction in force is often the responsibility of front-line supervisors.  Making sure supervisors are trained is a critical and often overlooked step in implementing a lay-off. 

Employers should take the following steps:

  • Provide the supervisor with a script communicating the reason(s) for the reduction, why the individual employee was chosen, and the nuts and bolts of the separation.  A Q & A sheet can be helpful.
  • Provide the supervisor with the necessary paperwork  (Separation Agreement, COBRA, exit interview form, etc.) in advance.  Supervisors should understand the basic provisions, including the amount of time the employee has to consider the agreement.
  • Counsel supervisors about confidentiality.
  • Caution supervisors against any reference to protected classifications or protected activities, such as comments like "you were almost ready to retire anyway" or "since you've been back from maternity leave..."  As in all employment decisions, supervisors must avoid stereotypes and assumptions.
  • Provide supervisors with responses to remaining employees.  Supervisors should not make promises of job security or continued employment.
  • Prepare the supervisor for employee challenges.   Supervisors should be able to direct employees to someone in human resources or management.
  • Keep in mind that the supervisor may be concerned about his/her job security as well.