A Guide to Compassionate Layoffs

Layoffs can be inevitable for organizations of all sizes. No matter what the context (internal or external) is, it’s imperative for leaders, managers, and People Operations (PeopleOps or HR) practitioners to practice compassionate layoffs.

This article features how to apply human principles to manage layoffs with care, compassion, respect, and dignity.

A Guide To Compassionate Layoffs

Purpose and meaning

It is crucial to help employees understand the ‘why’ of the layoffs, as it might make them more resilient.

Provide a rationale, whether it’s because of performance and quality issues, economic downturns and inflation spikes, or other reasons. This will allow them to comprehend the justification for the tough decisions. 

Transparency and openness

Honest and transparent communication is vital when sharing the purpose for layoffs.

Leaders, managers, and PeopleOps practitioners must be intentional about the way they communicate the layoffs message. Words are powerful, and so are gestures. 

Empathize, be sensitive, and be authentic. Expressing care, respect, and compassion during these challenging times can be a soothing balm. It can go a long way in building trust and positive relationships with the workforce (including those getting laid off).

Conduct the layoffs in a fair, ethical, and trusted way. 

Ethics and fairness

Leaders, managers, and PeopleOps practitioners must refrain from using cold email tactics and freezing access to all accounts (emails, collaboration tools, software systems, etc.) without transparently communicating the purpose behind the layoffs.

A one-on-one communication for a few minutes is fair and better, always! Treat the laid-off employees with dignity and humanely. 

Professional relationships

The relationship with the laid-off employees must not end abruptly. Bid goodbye in a humane way, as it can have a positive impact on their well-being.

Offer career transition support like placement services, career guidance, mentoring, and coaching. Let them know that in the future, they can serve as boomerangs. 



Leaders, managers, and PeopleOps practitioners must navigate layoffs compassionately to minimize the negative impact on employees and the company. 

Gain invaluable insights and expert advice from our March 9, 2023 LinkedIn Live Panel Discussion on Balancing the Business with a Human Touch during Layoffs. Watch it now.

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