Workforce Development

Manage Workforce Reductions

Managing Workforce Reductions

Because layoffs are often part of weathering a lackluster economy and aren't necessarily permanent, employers who manage their workforce reductions well can expect to improve their organization's image, productivity, profits, and staff morale. Here are some tips to consider if your company finds itself facing potential layoffs:

  • Tell employees the bad news in complete detail as soon as you know it. Most executive teams fear mass panic and walk outs. However, this is not usually the case. Anxiety will be high no matter what you do so it's best to respect employees' intelligence and address the worst case scenario far in advance of the possible event.
  • Speak to people face-to-face. Firing people over the phone, with a memo, or an e-mail message leaves a negative and lasting impression on the employees being terminated as well as the ones remaining—the ones you now need the most.
  • Instead of pep talks that fall flat, outline and detail the reasons behind the actions your company must take. Share the facts -- not platitudes.
  • Don't abruptly bounce employees out the door. Allow people to say good-bye to coworkers, business partners, and customers. Let them stay after work to pack up their personal belongings. Extending these courtesies reduces resentment and often allows coworkers and their immediate supervisors to transition projects and key accounts to the remaining staff.
  • Don't assume the rest of the employees are grateful just to have their jobs. The remaining employees identify with those laid off. Morale and productivity may drop if those laid off haven’t been treated fairly and given company support, which includes severance packages and outplacement services.
  1. Typical severance packages average two weeks of pay with an additional week for each year worked.
  2. Common outplacement offerings include resume writing, job searching, interview skills, group workshops, and one-on-one coaching.
  • After a few weeks, start discussing the downsizing as a step toward a more efficient, competitive, and profitable business. Look for ways to streamline the work so the remaining employees aren't overwhelmed. Discuss future career moves with the remaining employees to identify areas for additional training and support.

Rapid Response & Plant Closures

A layoff is difficult for everyone.  This program provides a variety of services to employers and their employees when it becomes necessary to downsize. 
These services focus on ensuring that affected employees are aware of Unemployment Insurance, childcare assistance, health insurance, and help that is available through the State Employment Service at their local Workforce Oklahoma Centers. In the case of a major decline in company staffing, job fairs are provided to these companies and their workers.
Rapid Response activities are provided as a part of a comprehensive Workforce Investment System designed to respond quickly to employer, employee and community needs when a mass layoff and/or plant closure appears imminent. The objective of Rapid Response is to help workers transition from notification of layoff to re-employment as soon as possible.
Services—most of which are offered without cost to the employers—include helping companies set up outplacement services for dislocated workers, handle media relations and manage the internal rumor mill, meet governmental reporting requirements, understand their rights and responsibilities under employment laws and regulations, and plan for and avoid future layoffs.

Workforce Reduction Regulations and Tax Issues

Worker Adjustment and Retraining (WARN) Act -- Helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs. The U.S. Department of Labor issued a series of guides to provide employers and workers with an overview of their rights and responsibilities under the provision of the WARN Act.
In Oklahoma to send WARN notices or make inquiries to:
Attn: Vikki Dearing
State Rapid Response Coordinator
Oklahoma Department of Commerce
Workforce Services Division
900 N. Stiles Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Phone: 405-815-5114

Unemployment Insurance -- The Oklahoma Employment Security Act provides that under certain conditions unemployed people can receive money from an unemployment compensation fund contributed to by employers subject to the Act. Detailed FAQs on who must pay the Unemployment Benefit Compensation Tax, what constitutes a valid claim, and how to protest a claim.