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!
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”