‘Some will cry … some will get very angry.’

In light of the government’s recent job cuts, the proper way to handle a layoff comes into question.

Emily Lyver

Having to lay off employees is never easy, but there’s still a right and a wrong way to go about it.

Anthony Martin, a former executive union officer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says that, from a union perspective, layoffs are best done based on seniority.

“Usually seniority is the biggest principle of any union; it gives the person who’s been there the longest – provided they’re qualified – the opportunity to get the most work or be recalled first or stay the longest.”

Last week, the provincial government laid off nearly 300 non-union management employees.

Unions, who negotiate on behalf of an employee under a collective agreement, are expected to do their job with the employee’s best interest in mind.

“The union makes it better for the employee, all the manager can do is act professionally and honour the collective agreement.”

Dale McGory, instructional coordinator for the school of business at the College of the North Atlantic, teaches his students proper etiquette when faced with layoffs.

He says it’s important that it be done with the principles of due process. It should start with the person being given advanced notice of potential job losses. While circumstances don’t always allow for this, it’s best to do it in a private environment, never in public, and to be as fair and empathetic as possible.

“When someone loses their job, you better not take it lightly, because it gets to the very essence of who they are,” McGory said. “Some will cry … some will get very angry. All those emotions you gotta be ready for.”

Dale McGory teaches his students the proper etiquette for employers and human resources advisers when dealing with a layoff. It’s never an easy job but there are ways to soften the blow. Emily Lyver/Kicker

In regards to large numbers, McGory says he’s seen people lined up outside of a single office, going in one by one to get the news. It’s something, he feels, should never happen. Instead, extra help should be recruited so that each person can have the dignity and privacy of a one-on-one. And while he’s never done it himself, mass – gathering everyone affected into one room – is also an option.

McGory says things like severance packages, counselling, future work prospects, assisted resume writing and offering references can all help to soften the blow.

“And at the end of the day, if you’ve been fair, consistent, upfront, given them notice, given them dignity, shown them empathy, hopefully they’ll accept it.”