Handle departure with compassion

The job market has certainly been a whirlwind over the past 18 months. We’ve gone from The Great Resignation to The Great Layoff, with companies of all sizes abruptly parting ways with employees — sometimes by the hundreds. 

What banks (and really, any industry) can learn from the current spike in layoffs is that former employees can be quite vocal about their last moments with a company. Consider mortgage company Better.com’s callous firing of 900 people via Zoom.

Many newly laid off or fired employees will immediately take to LinkedIn (the best platform to find a new job via one’s network) and Glassdoor to detail the experience. Current employees, potential employees, customers — they’ll all find out how layoffs/firings are handled. And it’ll impact their overall impression of your bank.

Even if you feel that your community bank has a relatively stable headcount in today’s economic environment, there’s always a possibility that your bank will need to part ways with employees. It could be the result of a merger/acquisition. It could be the downsizing of a department. Or it could be that the employee was simply not a good fit. 

If a departure at your bank is inevitable, treat your affected employees with compassion. In that moment, the only thing that matters is the employee and the wave of emotions they’ll be feeling. Have one-to-one conversations with each employee and give the employee a chance to ask questions — both immediately and in the future. Be prepared to talk openly with your remaining staff. 

Provide a detailed offboarding package, including information about severance, mental health resources, job boards, and career coaches. Remember that while the employee is processing the information, he or she may not be thinking clearly, so provide a straightforward avenue for follow-up communication. 

Don’t be Better.com. Be better.