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Understanding Gen Z, AI Filters Out Ideal Candidates, and Navigating Layoffs with Compassion

Published about 2 months ago • 5 min read

News Spotlight

Remote work is good for your health. A review of 1,930 academic papers on remote working found that employees who telecommuted were more likely to eat healthy foods including vegetables and fruit, compared to those who went to the office (The Guardian).

Gen Z thinks differently. Gen Z has the poorest mental health, doesn’t feel prepared for the future, socializes online instead of in-person, and wrestles with student loan debt (Axios).

AI can filter out ideal candidates. Companies are turning to AI to make the hiring process more efficient and faster, yet it can reject candidates that would be perfectly suited for roles (CNN).

Stat of the Week

The average New Yorker would be willing to give up $12,693 of their annual salary just to avoid the everyday commuting hassle, according to a new report.

Workers in major cities like New York, value flexibility over higher salaries despite the cost of living. Someone might give up some of their salary to avoid commuting to work because it can lead to significant time savings and reduced stress, allowing for a better work-life balance. Additionally, avoiding the costs associated with commuting, such as transportation expenses and vehicle maintenance, can offset the financial impact of a salary reduction.

Deep Dive Article

Navigating Layoffs with Compassion: A Guide for HR Leaders in 2024

So far in 2024, companies like Nike, Google, Mattel, Citi, PayPal, Cisco, Levi Strauss, and UPS have conducted layoffs. There are several reasons why a company might conduct a layoff, but the top reasons often include economic downturns, financial instability, restructuring or reorganization efforts, technological advancements leading to job redundancy, shifts in market demand or industry trends, mergers or acquisitions resulting in duplication of roles, and cost-cutting measures aimed at improving profitability or efficiency. These factors can compel organizations to make difficult decisions to reduce workforce size to align resources with strategic priorities, maintain competitiveness, and ensure long-term sustainability in a dynamic and evolving business environment.

As HR leaders, managing layoffs is one of the most challenging and emotionally taxing responsibilities they face. This is especially true in today’s social media-driven work environment when laying off improperly can hurt a company’s reputation. Recently, Cloudflare former employee Brittany Pietsch recorded a Zoom call where she was terminated by HR. Pietsch posted the recording as a Tik Tok and it went on to generate millions of views and be written about by The Wall Street Journal. The public outcry and backlash in support of Pietsch against Cloudflare forced the company’s CEO to comment admitting the layoff wasn’t handled properly. Workers shaming employers who handle layoffs improperly is a new trend because remote work allows employees to record and post instantly without having to deal with security or anyone watching them.

Remote layoffs present unique challenges for HR leaders due to the absence of in-person interactions and the potential for heightened emotional and logistical complexities. Conducting layoffs remotely can diminish the personal connection between HR and affected employees, making it more challenging to convey empathy and provide emotional support during a difficult time. Remote communication channels may not facilitate nuanced discussions or address individual concerns effectively, leading to misunderstandings and heightened anxiety among employees.

Today, we explore the evolving landscape of layoffs in 2024 and I’ll provide you with practical insights and best practices so you can navigate this delicate process while prioritizing the well-being of employees and preserving organizational integrity.

Assessment and Preparation

Layoffs should never be taken lightly. Before initiating any workforce reductions, HR leaders must conduct a comprehensive assessment of the organization's financial health, market conditions, and workforce needs. Collaborating with senior leadership and relevant stakeholders, HR should develop a detailed layoff plan outlining selection criterion, communication protocols, support services for affected employees, and legal considerations. This proactive approach ensures that layoffs are conducted with clarity, fairness, and integrity.

Transparent Communication

Transparency is paramount when communicating layoffs. HR leaders should openly and honestly communicate with employees about the reasons for the layoffs, emphasizing the broader context and the organization's commitment to supporting those affected. Providing clear and timely information about the layoff process, including timelines, severance packages, and available resources, helps alleviate uncertainty and anxiety among employees. Open communication channels should be established to address employees' concerns and questions throughout the process, fostering trust and minimizing disruption.

Compassionate Support Service

Layoffs can have a profound impact on employees' lives. HR leaders must prioritize the well-being of affected employees by offering compassionate support services. This may include career counseling, resume writing workshops, job search assistance, and access to mental health resources. Establishing dedicated channels for employees to seek guidance and support during and after the layoff process is essential. Encouraging open dialogue and active listening helps address employees' emotional needs and concerns, fostering a sense of belonging and support during this challenging time.

Fair and Ethical Practices

Layoffs must be conducted with fairness, ethics, and compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. HR leaders should ensure that the layoff process is free from any discriminatory practices and upholds principles of equity and inclusivity. Treating departing employees with dignity and respect is paramount, acknowledging their contributions to the organization and aiding ease their transition. Offering personalized support and flexibility to accommodate individual needs and circumstances demonstrates a commitment to fairness and ethical practices.

Retention Strategies for Key Talent

Retaining key talent is crucial for the organization's long-term success. HR leaders should identify and prioritize essential employees, exploring alternative options such as redeployment, retraining, or temporary furloughs to retain valuable talent wherever possible. Proactive communication with retained employees about job security and organizational changes is essential, offering opportunities for career development, advancement, and involvement in strategic initiatives to reinforce their value to the organization.

Leadership Visibility and Support

Senior leadership must be visible, accessible, and actively involved in the layoff process, demonstrating empathy, support, and a commitment to guiding the organization through challenging times. Equipping managers with the necessary training and resources to effectively communicate with their teams and provide emotional support to impacted employees is essential. Fostering a culture of transparency, trust, and accountability across all levels of the organization helps navigate layoffs with integrity and compassion.

Post-Layoff Evaluation and Learning

After completing the layoff process, HR leaders should conduct a thorough evaluation to gather feedback from employees, managers, and HR to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and lessons learned. Using insights from the evaluation, HR can refine future layoff practices and develop strategies for mitigating the impact of future workforce reductions. Continuous monitoring of employee morale, engagement, and retention informs ongoing efforts to support the workforce and uphold organizational values.

Maintaining Employee Morale and Engagement

Proactively addressing the impact of layoffs on remaining employees is essential for maintaining morale and engagement. HR leaders should foster a positive work environment, reinforce organizational values, and recognize employees' contributions. Providing opportunities for employee feedback, involvement in decision-making, and professional development helps maintain morale and engagement during periods of organizational change. Encouraging teamwork, collaboration, and resilience fosters a sense of unity and purpose among employees.

In 2024 and beyond, HR leaders must navigate layoffs with compassion, transparency, and strategic foresight. By prioritizing the well-being of employees, conducting layoffs with fairness and integrity, and fostering a culture of support and resilience, HR leaders can guide organizations through challenging times while preserving trust, morale, and organizational integrity. As stewards of the workforce, HR leaders play a vital role in shaping the future of work with empathy, compassion, and humanity.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic.

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