How To Lay Off Someone

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Business Growth

One of the most difficult managerial responsibilities is laying off an employee. Sympathy, grief, and concern are likely to be among the many conflicting emotions it will arouse. Even if laying off the employees is beneficial for the business, you could still feel bad about it. What’s the most effective manner to break the news? How can you be both direct and empathetic at the same time? What degree of emotion should you display?

Methods for laying someone off
Prepare for the meeting to announce changes

When an employer formally notifies an employee that their job is ending, it is known as a notification meeting or reduction in force (RIF) notification.

The notification meeting requires significant planning. Set the logistics in place first.

  • Choose a location for the meeting that will provide some privacy for the impacted employee; a conference room or other neutral area is preferable to a manager’s office.
  • Want a time that won’t cause too much disturbance to the company’s operations and provide the employee the option of departing the premises reasonably quietly if they so choose. Make careful to include anybody else who might need to attend the layoff notice meeting as you select where and when. The impacted employee, their boss, an HR representative, and, if necessary, a security team member are often present at layoff discussions.

Additionally, gather all of the meeting materials you will require. This could consist of a letter of employment termination, COBRA paperwork, the last paycheck, a severance agreement, and anything connected to the severance package, like a severance check and information regarding outplacement services to assist the employee in finding a new job.

Planning and proper preparation are crucial if you want the manager-employee contact to run as smoothly as possible. Be certain that you are aware of your goals.

The following are the company’s goals for the notification meeting:

  • Conduct courteous separation meetings that notify employees that their employment is being removed in a clear-cut yet sympathetic manner.
  • To safeguard the company’s and employer’s brand, especially in terms of their reputation for potential future hiring.
  • To lessen the negative effects on both the retention and departure of staff.

The following are the aims of the employee notification meeting:

  • To hear and comprehend the message in its proper context.
  • Keeping your composure throughout the procedure.
  • To be aware of the tools available to them to aid in their transition and understand what to do next

You should try to become acquainted with the events that led to the choice to eliminate the employee’s position before the notification meeting. Using a script as a guideline might be simpler.

With the help of a script, you can make sure you cover all the essential ground and have an opportunity to rehearse your speech’s content and delivery. Making such a script might be a smart move for both impacted and unaffected staff. You should have a plan for what you’ll say about the course of action, the justification for it, and when and how it will occur. You’ll be able to convey the message in the most reliable, competent, and kind way possible thanks to this.

Give the employee the tools they need

Prepare materials that you may provide the employee to aid with the transition. You can use the resources listed below to help them:

  • Information on the transfer of benefits and human resources.
  • Resources available at the Career Center, if any.
  • Assistance with transitioning, looking for a job, and creating a CV for employees through outplacement resources.
  • Other corporate resources or outside community resources.

Answer any difficult inquiries and strong feelings

You should be ready for this because the separation process may be difficult for everyone involved.

  • Attempt to anticipate questions and be prepared with the solutions to them in advance.
  • Don’t forget to have some tissues on hand.
  • Make the correct preparations for the notification meeting by taking the time that is required.
  • Choose a location that will provide you privacy.
  • Choose a time that is early in the day and not on a day that is just before a weekend, holiday, or planned vacation for either the employee or management.
  • Think about the day in connection to important events for the employee (such as a birthday, family celebration, or a religious holiday).
  • Make time for unbroken work.
How to lay off someone
An employee layoff script
A layoff script is a pre-written document that a Management team can refer to during the notification meeting to stay on track and cover specific talking points, such as the employee’s last day of work, what is included in their severance package, and what benefits they will receive, all while showing respect for the affected staff member.

After that, let’s examine each component separately:

Starting of the Meeting

This section focuses on how to break the terrible news.

Get right to the point. Request as quickly as possible from your management a statement of what is occurring and why. Keep your small conversation to a minimum. No amount of “warming up” will make this difficult encounter any easier for you or your employee. In fact, it may make delivery much more challenging.

In the Mid

The midpoint of the meeting has two parts, and this is undoubtedly the most challenging one.


Listening is the primary goal of the first phase.

Yes, despite what we mentioned before about the necessity of remaining on task and avoiding unnecessary small chats, it is crucial to allow your departing colleague enough time to process the news.

Make sure to include this in your layoff script so that you don’t rush through the meeting and leave your now-former employee in disbelief.

This entails allowing your employee to complain and express themselves. If you can, avoid interrupting them. Obviously, this section varies depending on the individual you’re parting ways with. It’s reasonable that some people may want to talk while others will just want to go as soon as they can.

Your management should then intervene and direct the discussion to severance benefits and outplacement assistance. For this transition, having a layoff script on hand is a smart idea since you need a strategy to go forward regardless of how the employee responds. You can better deliver these force reduction talking points at the right moments if you have anything prepared or practiced.


The second level is concerned with Severance and Outplacement Agreements.

How does this matter? Outplacement programs, including severance compensation, demonstrate your concern for the future employment options of the departed employee. You don’t want to leave them on the sidewalk.

They dedicated a lot of time and effort to your company, and this is the perfect opportunity to express your support for them moving forward. This not only greatly benefits your personnel and makes it easier to let them leave, but it also preserves your reputation.

Switching of the Powers

At this point in your layoff plan, you and your management must decide how to transfer the departing employee’s responsibilities. This often entails reaching a consensus that they will complete their jobs and projects or determining if your present team can sustain the loss; informing remaining employees of layoffs will make this process go more smoothly.

The work transition should go well if you treat your employee respectfully and adhere to the above instructions. It is undoubtedly a good idea to make plans in advance for the workload adjustment.

What to Do

Having said the foregoing, include a notation in your layoff script to gather any items that belong to the firm, such as badges and keys.

The employee’s reaction to the news will ultimately determine how this stage goes. The employee shouldn’t be allowed to return to their workstation, as this is often advised since emotions are high, it would be embarrassing for everyone concerned, and it’s also wise to secure business property.

How to lay off someone
It’s a good idea to have support available in the event of a large-scale layoff to aid departing employees in effectively coping with the situation and moving on, such as outplacement services or an employee assistance program.

This unpleasant meeting will be much simpler to manage and carry out if you have a strong job layoff script and these supported mechanisms in place. A layoff script isn’t one size fits all, it’s crucial to remember that.

Using the above guidelines, you may create a clear, simple paper that will successfully and diplomatically break the news, leaving both you and your departing employee on good terms.