Businesses have to close their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. They are losing profit and clients. It is an unthinkable reality for industries around the world. But here’s another thing that creeps into our consciousness: “What if we have to lay off employees?” Whether you’re a month or two months into temporarily closing down your business, you now have to face the reality that you can’t go on like this for weeks or months.
Sure, you can ask for a refinance for your business loan, but is that a viable solution to your problem? Wouldn’t that be a Band-Aid solution? Can you afford it? Will the bank even approve your application for a refinance when they are on the losing end, too?
The thought of laying off and furloughing employees have crossed your mind. Don’t feel too bad. It’s a practical solution that businesses must consider under the circumstances. What you should do is to talk to your employees, explain the situation, and hope that they understand where you’re coming from.
Create a Plan
You don’t need to let go of all your employees. Perhaps you can cut their work hours or design an on-off furlough plan. Half of your employees may go to work this week, while the other half will be assigned next week. This way, they are not completely without income for months. Although it’s a big blow for them to lose half of their expected income, this setup is still better than nothing.
Be Transparent to Your Staff
As much as it is obvious that your business will struggle during an outbreak, don’t expect your staff to just understand without hearing anything from you. Gather them in a teleconferencing meeting and be transparent to them about your need to let go of some of them. It may hurt because they will lose their income, but you don’t need to be insensitive about it. Emphasize that you will try to work out a plan once the business can reopen. Allow them to seek employment somewhere else but promise that you will try to rehire them when you can.
Clear up Ambiguity Around Benefits
If you can’t pay them their monthly salaries anymore, perhaps you can allow for their health benefits to continue. You can negotiate with the health insurance company. This might not seem much, but it will be a big help for your employees not to have to worry about their health insurance. Be open to answering their questions once you announce that you have to let them go.
Do Not Allow Them to Work During the Furlough
If you are going to lay off your employees, make sure that they are not in contact with the existing clients. Even if they mean well, you should make it clear that they cannot transact with clients. Otherwise, you may be held liable for unpaid work. Inform them that they are not authorized to work during the furlough.
Stay in touch with them as much as you can. When businesses reopen, prioritize finding a way to hire them back again. Your staff needs to know that they matter to the organization. Make them feel that they are valued even if you have to let go of them.