March 19, 2015

employee getting a layoff notice

Or “How to Cope with the Aftereffects of a Layoff”

It’s an unfortunate truth that, as employers or office managers in the medical or dental field, one day we may have to layoff one or more of our employees due to financial hardship. We hate to do it, but we also know it is necessary to ensure the survival of the practice.

Of course, a layoff doesn’t just end with informing the employees you had to let go, and the ensuing unemployment claims; it also requires a sensitive and thoughtful approach to informing your remaining team members of why the layoff was necessary and addressing their concerns and questions.

Below is practice management guidance on how to minimize the aftereffects of layoffs in your practice.

I. First Step.
After the layoff notifications are complete, it’s advised to meet the remaining team members to regroup as soon as possible.

  • Allow for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make every effort to have all retained employees present
  • Choose a location that will be private and uninterrupted

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II. At the Meeting.
Your goal is to let them know what’s happened, to give them some reassurance, and to elicit their commitment to the continued success of your medical or dental practice.

Sample opening language:

I have some difficult news to share with all of you. As you may know, the practice has not been meeting our financial goals, and we have been struggling to regroup. As a result, we have had to make some tough decisions and to eliminate jobs. A number of people are leaving the organization. They have all been informed, and today was their last day. These decisions were made based on the needs of the company, and a variety of factors were considered in determining who would be let go. If you are here, it means that we feel you are contributing to our goals, and we will be depending on your commitment to meet the challenges ahead so we can get back to the success we know is possible. I want to tell you that we do not anticipate any additional layoffs this year. We are still assessing the financial and organizational situation and can’t predict what will happen in the future. I know that you have questions and reactions to what I’ve said. Let me pause now and hear from you.

Be prepared to answer statements or questions about the employees who were let go (how they are doing), about any layoff benefits they may have received or why none were provided, and who will be taking over their responsibilities. You may tell them that employees who are laid off will usually qualify for unemployment benefits.

Other issues that may come up:

  • What to say to anyone calling for a specific employee?
  • It’s okay to contact them to say goodbye if you have a personal relationship with them.

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III. Wrap it Up.
Next, let your employees know what the next few days to weeks will look like. Emphasize that communication is essential, and open the door to questions from them. Set aside time to do a one-on-one check in, especially for anyone who may be particularly impacted by someone else’s departure (e.g., a family member, or close co-worker). Explain any re-assignments and any other essential business only. End with a positive outlook – be a CHEERLEADER. Let them in on your vision for the short term and long term goals of the company, and affirm that they should come directly to you with any questions, concerns, or just to find out if any “rumors” out there are true or not.

Finally, recognize that people may not react immediately, but may, over time, show signs of anxiety, lack of commitment, anger, resentment, or even a decrease in productivity. Not all responses will be negative. Some employees may feel relieved or charged up. Regardless, it will be important that you show strong leadership, positive reinforcement, and help employees focus on the priorities at hand and their ability to contribute in a positive way. Listen well and listen often.

IV. Final Tips.

  • Embody respect for employees by being honest and straight with them. It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer if you don’t know the answer.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration. Be encouraging. Stress that this is the time for the whole practice to band together and move forward.
  • Keep them informed of progress. Hold a follow up meeting to set new goals a few days later. Ask them how it’s going, what they need, what ideas they have. Even if you can’t accommodate them, asking shows you care.
  • Model confidence and calmness. Stay upbeat and focused on your work. Your stress and anxiety will be transparent to employees. Worrying will only result in more worrying. You are now going in a new direction. Show confidence in it and your ability to lead. Demonstrate that you are in control of yourself and your emotions.

If you have any questions about coping with the aftermath of layoffs or how to handle problems with remaining team members, please call us anytime toll free at (866) 414-6056 or email us at

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Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.