How to professionally handle layoffs to create a better business
Originally reported by our sister brand Business Review Canada, Kraft Heinz is laying off 2,500 workers, which accounts for more than five percent of its total staff.
Currently controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, the layoffs at Kraft Heinz will be taking place in both the United States and Canada, with 700 of the cuts happening at the Kraft headquarters in Northfield, Illinois. All employees will receive a minimum of six months severance pay.
Unfortunately, when businesses are struggling, layoffs may be necessary. To help make this process go a little smoother, Business Review USA has put together some tips to help overcome layoffs and improve your business operations.
Think about the employees you need to cut
For morale purposes, it’s better to have one big layoff versus a series of small ones. It’s not fair to have employees constantly worrying whether or not if their job is in jeopardy (i.e. if they’re next on the chopping block).
During this time, be upfront and honest will your workers—they will respect you more. Educate them on how much revenue needs to come in each month in order to pay the bills and turn a profit. And if more jobs may need to be cut in the future, let your workers know.
- Give plenty of notice (care enough about your employees to give them time to find another job)
- Don’t lay off workers in a group, but inform them individually or the “why” and “when”
- Communicate openly with the worker, letting he or she know what will happen next
- Be as gracious as possible and show sympathy for the worker
Think about the positions you no longer need
When your business was thriving, you may have had certain positions or employees that you no longer need or can afford. In this case, it may be appropriate to eliminate positions and/or do some shifting of job responsibilities.
For example, you may discover that an employee in a position that is scheduled to be cut is more valuable and qualified than someone occupying a position you plan to keep. If so, make a substitution: keep the better worker, but change his or her position within the company.
Think about how and why you’re eliminating a worker
When making these difficult decisions, whatever you do, make sure to terminate someone fairly and legally. It is illegal to make employment decisions based on age, gender, race, disability, religion and national origin. Therefore, don’t discriminate for an illegal reason.
Specifically, when making your list of people you plan on cutting, check to see if there are several similarities between workers. If you discover that you’re eliminating mostly women or elderly employees, either rethink your plan or consult an employment lawyer to avoid potential discrimination claims.
Think about the rest of your team
You need to be open and honest with all of the employees who will be staying with the company. Different ways to possible create some ease throughout the company include:
- Provide as much morale to the environment as you possible can
- Be honest with the remaining team members—truthfully answer any questions they may have about the layoffs
- Work to retain the remaining employees you have by recognizing and rewarding good performance
- Make sure that your employees know how difficult this decision has been, but that you also plan to get through the tough times and are hopeful for a prosperous future
Remember that layoffs are difficult for everyone at the company—the employees getting cut, the employees staying and the employer. Stay calm and professional. While this is one of the hardest components of being a leader, in business, cuts sometimes just have to be made.
RELATED TOPIC: 4 tips to assist all new business owners
Click here to read the latest edition of Business Review USA!
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.