Conducting employee layoffs can be tough. Many small business leaders know their employees personally, as well as professionally. Telling a close colleague they no longer have a job can be both emotionally fraught and professionally difficult.

If your business is currently performing layoffs or expects to be in the near future, keep these tips in mind.

Include human resources staff members in all steps of layoff communications.

Human resources staff members specialize in understanding the rules and laws that govern layoff decisions. If layoffs are in your company’s future, involve an HR person sooner rather than later. Talk to HR about layoff plans, include them on emails, and ensure an HR representative is in the room with you when you give layoff notices to employees.

Hold exit interviews to understand a departing employee’s perspective.

Exit interviews give a laid-off employee an opportunity to feel heard. They’re also a valuable source of information and insight for employers, whether an employee is fired or leaves voluntarily.

Hold exit interviews for employees facing layoffs just as you would for an employee who gave notice. Ask what the company does well and what it could do better. Use this information to improve conditions for your existing team members.

Share layoff news in person and in private.

It’s tempting to conduct layoffs via email or telephone call, especially when you know the employee well. Avoid this temptation, however. The kindest way to break the news is in person and in private.

During this meeting, have an HR team member present. Allow the departing employee to express their feelings, but don’t be afraid to set boundaries if the employee’s reaction becomes abusive. Make notes of the meeting immediately after, before you forget the details.

Do what you can to help the departing employee continue their career.

Demonstrate that layoffs are business and not personal by helping departing workers move on in their careers. Provide references, reach out to your own network for connections, and provide recommendations for the employee’s next steps.

Having employees can be essential for business success, but it can also expose your business to certain risks.

To ensure your business is protected, get in touch with the insurance professionals at Odell Studner today.