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Laying Off An Employee During Covid: A Quick Guide

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The Covid-19 pandemic's impact has been nothing short of a recession for businesses worldwide. It has made employers and leaders restore to that one thing that ultimately everyone dreads- laying off an employee.

Losing your job, especially during a pandemic, is perhaps the worst thing to happen to anyone. It's not easy for any parties, to say the least.

HR managers have a challenging task to deliver the news in a dignified way to lessen the blow.

While, for the laid-off employees, it means dealing with the onslaught of stress, sadness, and anger all at once. However, they are not the only affected employees.

When coping with the loss of their coworkers, the remaining employees are afraid of being fired.

Understandably, such difficult times will affect morale, mental health, and engagement as a whole. As a member of the human resource department, this is nothing sort of a crisis that requires a well-thought solution.

As an HR professional, the best thing that you can provide is a smooth exit experience that benefits the fired employees in some form.

Here is a list of things that will make laying off an employee into a significantly less stressful process for all parties involved:

8 Things To Do While Laying Off An Employee In The Covid Era

(Credits: Unsplash)

1. Don’t Wait Too Long To Deliver The News

As a human resource professional, your basic instinct is to mitigate any conflict. However, waiting until the last minute to deliver the news about being laid off will prove to be disastrous.

First of all, the sudden loss of a job will make the laid-off employees feel more stressed out since they had no prior warning. Second of all, such an action will result in a massive backlash that can be more than harmful, especially when the company’s ethics are being questioned.

The idea is not to inform the affected employees too early or too late. Find the perfect balance where the laid-off employee would have a chance to deal with the layoff and make necessary arrangements.

Informing him at the right time also enables the company to make amends by providing an exit experience that would express how unfortunate the situation is.

2. Be Transparent

The most important thing to remember on how to handle layoffs is to communicate about the why’s. Transparent communication between the HR manager and the laid-off employee about its reasons can help upgrade the layoff process.

A process of secrecy without open channels while laying off an employee will only result in malicious gossip and rumors.

Being transparent about the layoff would entail the company to lay in front of the table the various circumstances that made the process necessary.

Whether it's to cut costs, staying afloat, or financial losses, your employees deserve the know the truth from you.

Such open communication will probably not lessen the stress for laid-off employees. But it will definitely help them to understand the reasons behind it.

3. Show Empathy And Support

The uncertainty of these tough times calls for empathy to govern our every decision.

Being let go of is not easy. It's upon an HR manager to handle the matter with tact and sensitivity. While you deliver the news to the affected employee, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Meet with the departing employee one-on-one or in a private setting.
  • Talk gently and with respect. Even when encountered by anger from the other side, remember to hold your peace.
  • Highlight the reasons, causes, and be transparent with the laid-off employees.
  • Make them aware of their options and offer help to tide them over during these difficult times.
  • Don’t make false promises since you don’t know when businesses will turn profitable.

4. Provide Stellar Recommendations

For a fired employee, a glowing letter of recommendation can be a ticket to a better future. It will be a great asset through which the fired employees can be benefited from their job search.

Your company might be fighting losses, but others are equipping themselves to hire more.

Ensure that every affected employee's recommendation letter speaks positively about their strengths and contributions to the company.

Don’t forget to mention that their reason for leaving is not influenced by their job performance or behaviors.

5. Aid In The Job Search

Laying off an employee during the covid pandemic is not the usual circumstance. The inability to go out and stay confined within one's homes presents new challenges to the fired employees for seeking new jobs.

As a human resource professional, you must act with empathy to present specific help or opportunities to make the process easier for them.

The foremost concern is perhaps helping affected employees find new employment. Here are a few ways through which you can contribute to the job search:

  • Connect with other HR managers to collect information about new job opportunities.
  • Forward possible job prospects and companies that are hiring.
  • Reach out to your LinkedIn connections to forward relevant information.
  • Ask the remaining employees to provide job referrals.

6. Set Them Up To Recieve Unemployment Insurance

The transition period between one job to the next is perhaps one of the most challenging periods of anyone's life. In such difficult times, the ability to collect and receive unemployment benefits is a boon by itself.

From your part, try to guide the laid-off employees into applying for unemployment and aid them in the process.

Similarly, try to fast-track any documents or processes that’ll help your laid-off employees to receive unemployment insurance and health insurance as soon as possible.

7. Set Remaining Employees Up For Success

Laying off an employee hugely impacts the engagement of the remaining employees as well.

It decreases morale, increases stress, and impacts performance.

As an HR manager, you must address these issues with your remaining employees as well. Reassure them that their jobs are not at stake and encourage them to make the exit process smoother for their peers.

8. Offer Severance Pay

There is no set policy about providing severance packages to laid-off employees, but letting someone go is difficult and sometimes even painful.

Severance pay is typically given to long-term employees in recognition of their years of service and commitment to the organization.

It helps in gaining decent goodwill for the company and removing any traces of resentment from your employee.


As an HR manager, a lot of responsibilities about laying off an employee would fall on you.

Thus, it's upon you to handle this tough job of making their exit as stress-free as you possibly can. Is there anything in particular that you would like us to add to this article? Do let us know.

This article is written by Barasha Medhi who is a part of the marketing team at Vantage Circle. Barasha can be found either searching for interesting HR, company culture, and corporate buzzwords to write about or looking at pictures of cozy Bel Air mansions. For any related queries, contact