Navigating Layoffs with Transparency and Trust: A Guide for HR

GREAT PLACE TO WORK US AND ASEAN

Author

GREAT PLACE TO WORK US AND ASEAN

Authors

CATEGORIES

Categories

When businesses enter a new year faced with industry-wide news of tech sector job cuts and a tightening of belts in the major tech companies such as Meta and Shopee, it is no wonder workers are losing trust in their workplace.

With recession fears, more potential job layoffs, and the challenging economic headwinds, business leaders are facing their company culture being at risk when employee trust is waylaid. Employees who have escaped the job cuts continue to struggle with conflicting emotions of wondering “who’s next”?

The first consideration for business leaders is to think through the way it conducts layoffs. Ms Evelyn Kwek, managing director of Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ, shares: “Employees today generally do not believe that work is the be-all and end-all in their life. With the widespread use of social media, many openly share their experiences and amplify their grouses online even if they do not share their views and feedback openly to their bosses or to HR. In an unfortunate event that we have to conduct a layoff, let’s at least deliver the bad news with empathy and care.”

In fact, research has shown that one in two candidates would not work for a company with a bad reputation—even with a pay increase, over three in four would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job, and more than half say that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.1

“The best workplaces go through layoffs; it’s part of business,” says Marcus Erb, vice president of data science and innovation at Great Place To Work®. “Nobody likes to have it happen, but it has to happen sometimes.

How great workplaces handle layoffs

How companies conduct layoffs speaks volumes about how great employers distinguish themselves from merely average ones. A great workplace finds ways to care for employees even as they transition out of the organization.

And companies that are serious about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging take identity into consideration when pondering staff cuts. The overall approach can be separated into three phases: before, during and after.

1. Before a layoff

Leaders must double down on communication and clarity, says Tony Bond, chief diversity and innovation officer with Great Place To Work. Workers must be left with no doubt that layoffs were a last resort.

“If it doesn’t feel that way, if you haven’t cut costs in other areas (travel, expensive meetings) and you lay off people, then the optics on that aren’t great,” Bond says. When Hilton, a recurring member on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For™ list, had to lay off employees in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders didn’t mince words.

“Never in Hilton’s 101-year history has our industry faced a global crisis that brings travel to a virtual standstill,” President and CEO Chris Nasetta told employees. And employees need to keep hearing from leaders throughout the process.

“It’s clarity around communications, it’s the quality of the communications, and it’s also the frequency of the communications,” Bond says.

This is also the time to ask employees for input. Sourcing ideas from across the organization on cutting costs can help employees feel like they have some control over the situation. However, only in companies that have embraced a For All™ culture, where everyone is empowered to innovate, will such efforts be possible.

An emotionally intelligent appeal to workers stands in contrast to companies that have tried to bully workers into resigning of their own free will. Turning up the pressure or asking workers to self-select as someone who doesn’t fit in isn’t the same as asking your team to help find cost-cutting measures to save jobs.

2. During a layoff

Great workplaces go the extra mile to personalize messaging, extend benefits to affected employees and even help them find new opportunities. Showing care also means thinking about how a layoff might disproportionately hit underrepresented groups.

“You really have to look at the landscape of who is being impacted,” Bond says. That means doing careful analysis and resisting the urge to limit the discussion around downsizing to a handful of leaders.

“Typically what happens in a downturn is that leaders get together and huddle separate from everyone else, try to figure things out and then come to people and articulate what’s going to happen,” Bond says. The C-suite might want to restrict information around a decision to cut jobs, but Bond argues that the best companies do the opposite.

“They broaden their focus,” he says. “They talk to more people. They’ve engaged their people around decisions to be made. That process alone helps them really see it through the lens of belonging or diversity, equity and inclusion.”

When organizations get this wrong, the results can make headlines. Companies that show care work to extend benefits to affected workers or even keep communication channels open so that team members can be rehired if the market improves.

3. After a layoff

The best workplaces make sure to engage remaining workers who are perhaps grieving their departed colleagues as well as taking on more work due to staff reductions. Failing to meet the moment with empathy will destroy trust. “Even if you lay people off, you’re still going to have people working for you—and they’re paying attention to how you handled the layoff,” Erb says.

Giving employees an opportunity to express themselves isn’t expensive or complicated. It just requires leaders willing to provide space. “Break people out into smaller groups and give them a few questions,” recommends Bond. “Just explore: ‘How are you experiencing things today?’ It’s really as simple as that.”

Another important step is to connect remaining employees back to your company’s purpose. When trust is fractured because a friend is laid off, employees are looking for something that will let them feel good about continuing to work for the organization, Bond says.

“That’s a time for organizations to really highlight the purpose and the mission and make sure people are rallied around the purpose.”

Leaders should be prepared for some strong emotions. “It’s almost like a death in the family, and you need to process it with the people that are close to you,” Bond says.

Do you consider these vital factors during layoffs?

  • Are outgoing employees treated right and with respect in both good and bad times? 
  • Is the exit message being delivered personally with compassion and sensitivity, and are employees treated with respect and dignity? 
  • Have companies prepared the managers who are responsible for notifying employees of the retrenchment on how to deliver the news in a sensitive manner? 
  • Are HR personnel and union representatives (if applicable) onsite to take feedback and address queries from retrenched employees? 
  • Are particular demographics/groups of employees being disproportionately impacted over others? 
  • Does the company engage in early communications and provide a longer notice period to allow them more time to react and seek alternative employment? 
  • Do leaders double down on communication and clarity, so that employees are left with no doubt that layoffs were the last resort? 
  • Has the company provided retrenchment benefits and job support as employees seek new opportunities?  

Help your company soar through the current economic climate

>Stay informed and respond to the rapidly moving needs of your employees with a high-trust workplace culture.

>Understand and close the experience gaps between employee groups with a culture management tool.

>Explore company culture advice to help you create an inclusive workplace

GREAT PLACE TO WORK US AND ASEAN

Great Place To Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Our mission is to help every place become a great place to work for all. We give leaders and organizations the recognition and tools to create a consistently and overwhelmingly positive employee experience, fostering cultures that are proven to drive business, improve lives, and better society. Our recognition is the most coveted and respected in the world for elevating employer brands to attract the right people. Our proprietary methodology and platform enables organizations to truly capture, analyze, and understand the experience of all employees. Our groundbreaking research empowers organizations to build cultures that retain talent and unlock the potential of every employee. Our coaches, content, and community connect the boldest leaders, ideas, and innovations in employee experience. Since 1992, our Certification™, Best Workplaces™ Lists, and global benchmarks have become the industry standard, built on data from more than 100 million employees in 150 countries around the world.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work® Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces™ in Healthcare & Biopharma List. This list recognizes exemplary companies in the healthcare & biopharma industry.

Recognized as a global hub for medical technology and research, Singapore has attracted top healthcare and biopharma talents and companies from around the world. It has become the center for essential healthcare services and innovations with its world-class research institutes, academic medical centers, and industry clusters.

In turn, the healthcare and biopharma sectors play a critical role in the country’s economic competitiveness, sustainability, and innovation. These industries have significantly helped in the overall improvement of public health and well-being of the people of Singapore and its neighboring countries.

The inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma List puts the spotlight on the organizations that are dedicated to providing employee satisfaction and engagement, and their commitment to excellence in the industry.

The companies in our Great Place To Work Certified™ community have the premier distinction that helps attract the best talent, build your employer brand, and secure a competitive advantage. To achieve this, they built a working environment that is purpose-driven and people-first. These companies have demonstrated that showing authentic care, prioritizing employee’s holistic well-being, and building a culture of trust go hand in hand with growth and success.

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma, Great Place to Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place to Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place to Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place to Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work™ Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Technology List. This List recognizes exemplary companies in the information and communication technologies industry in four categories:

  • Micro category (10–29 employees)
  • Small (30-99 employees)
  • Medium (100-999 employees)
  • Large (> 1000 employees)

With Singapore’s ambition to be recognized as a regional technology hub, the influx of technology firms (around 80 of the world’s top 100 technology firms have a presence here) and global rankings that place us a leading technology hub outside of San Francisco, the establishment of a Singapore Best Workplaces List in Technology is indeed a timely and needed one. Technology firms in Singapore are characterized by hyper-growth and ambitious expansion plans. This means a continuous war for talent in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving industry.

To maintain our lead as a technology and innovation hub, the ability to attract, retain and sustain skilled talent is critical. We are proud that companies in our Great Place To Work®-Certified community List have built a high-trust culture, engaged employees and maximized their potential to facilitate innovation. They are purpose-driven and adopt a people-first mindset. These are companies that have shown that authentic care and employee well-being need not be compromised for ambitious growth, and that it is possible for businesses to scale up quickly and responsibly. Their culture and core values are embodied in every individual—from senior leadership to rank-and-file employees—and differentiate them from their competitors, priming them to be powerful magnets for top talent.

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category

 

Methodology

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces™️, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing close to 70,000 employees across different industries in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. 85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do.

Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category