Three people discussing organizational change

When faced with the challenging task of managing layoffs or furloughs, put communication and empathy at the top of your list. Here's how:

Develop a comprehensive plan that includes key messages, communication tactics and a tight timeline—designed to manage rumors and maintain productivity. Consider sequencing and tactics based on the size of the impacted group. For example, you’ll be able to move faster and communicate personally with 20 employees versus 1,000 employees.

Prepare leaders, HR professionals and impacted people managers to communicate with employees. Ensure they understand the plan and their roles (what to do when), provide guidance on messaging and practice answering tough questions.

Notify impacted employees promptly and directly, using face-to-face meetings or personalized communication whenever possible. Provide tips to those with communication roles so they communicate with empathy.

Continue communicating with remaining employees to address concerns, clarify expectations and involve them in defining new work processes. Measure engagement and involve employees in decision-making to foster a sense of ownership and support.

You’ll help employees process organizational changes while maintaining trust and morale by prioritizing clear, empathetic communication throughout the process.