Five ways to show empathy and compassion to laid-off staff

CHIEF OF STAFF FIVE: Experiencing job loss, no matter the cause, can be a distressing event that can leave outgoing employees feeling worried and uncertain about their future. It is crucial for management, HR leaders, and colleagues to exhibit empathy and compassion towards these laid-off workers.


Moreover, the way a company handles layoffs can significantly impact its broader reputation across a wide range of stakeholders. These include customers, suppliers, remaining staff, and even potential future recruits. Offering support to the impacted staff members can enhance the organisation’s image and demonstrate how it values its employees.

Here are five ways to support laid-off employees in the weeks both before and after their exit.

1. Provide emotional support

Emotional support comes in different forms. Providing a clear explanation behind the decision is one. This will help employees better understand the situation and will grant them closure. Other ways include active listening and acknowledging what they feel, and giving them a vote of confidence that they will eventually find a new job. 

HR leaders can also give guarantee that they can be used as professional references in job applications. They can also give affected employees a letter of recommendation that outlines their strengths, accomplishments, and contributions to company growth.

2. Offer career counselling and outplacement services

After the layoff, several employees may feel confused or indecisive about their future career path. To assist them, employers can offer career counseling services through professional coaches. Aside from counselling, employers can also help affected staff with job search, resume and cover letter writing workshops, and interview preparation. 

3. Offer training and upskilling opportunities

At times, a layoff can present an opening for employees to improve their skills and increase their edge in the competitive job market. Companies can assist laid-off workers by providing training and upskilling programs, which can enable them to acquire fresh skills and support their professional growth.

HR leaders can ask them what are the skills they have always wanted to learn or the set of skills they think would help them land their next job and start from there.

4. Give financial support

Losing a job can means losing a reliable source of income, causing financial strain, especially for individuals with dependents. Therefore, providing financial assistance is the most practical way to support laid-off staff.

Although some companies are required by policy or law to offer financial aid in the form of severance packages, others may choose to provide monetary support voluntarily. This could involve giving the affected employees a month’s salary or at least two weeks’ worth, maintaining their health insurance for a specified duration, and helping them apply for unemployment benefits with government agencies.

5. Maintain communication

Maintaining connections with laid-off employees is important, even after they have left the organisation. Employers can keep in touch by checking in on them occasionally, especially during their search for a new job, and by inviting them to attend company events. 

This will help maintain positive relationships formed throughout the former employees’ tenure with the company and make them feel that there is a potential to work with the company again in the future.

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Chief of Staff Asia