Dec 13

How to Handle Holiday Layoffs With Compassion

Ah, who doesn’t love the holidays? There’s a joyful spirit all around, and we get to see our family and friends on our extended time off from work. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

However, it’s business as usual for many companies even amidst the celebrations. Unfortunately, this can involve making tough decisions, such as trimming the workforce during the Christmas season.

Although layoffs are inevitably part of the business cycle, it should always be the last resort. A company’s strength often lies in its people, and it won’t be as easy to get them to come back once you cut them loose.

But if you’ve exhausted all other alternatives and will have to lay off some employees during the holidays to make sure that the company still stays afloat next year, you might as well do it with compassion and empathy.

Here are a few pointers.

Softening The Blow: Holiday Layoffs

Transparency and honesty are always important. So, if you’re letting some employees go during the holidays, let them know ASAP so that they can make arrangements.

Be Honest and Transparent

company transparency

You know what’s worse than getting laid off? Getting laid off, effective immediately.

If your business is struggling, you should give our team a heads-up. You don’t have to go into detail, but reveal enough so that your staff are aware of the possibility of retrenchment in case things continue to go downhill.

Besides, many employees are willing to pitch in to help save the company, especially during difficult times. But only if they know the situation.This way, they can explore ample opportunities to cut down costs in their respective departments.

Also, this means the layoff won’t be too much of a shock if and when you have to resort to it. More importantly, you’re able to retain their trust and respect, both for you and your organisation.

Timing Matters

Timing Matters

Aside from finding the right words, you should also be mindful of the right timing. Please, please have a heart and don’t make the announcement right before or immediately after Christmas.

And if you can afford to, postpone the layoff until after the holiday season.

However, don’t delay the announcement for too long either, especially if you can’t avoid a December layoff.

The longer you put it off, the more difficult it will be for everyone involved. Hence, it’s better to make the announcement at the beginning of the month. This way, people can manage their spending right before they start buying presents during the holiday rush.

Forgo Bonuses and Extravagant Parties

Forgo Bonuses and Extravagant Parties

Your soon-to-be ex-employees shouldn’t be the only ones keeping a tight rein on their finances. In fact, you should be tightening your belt too. After all, that’s you’re laying off team members to cut costs, right?

For example, handing out bonuses to the remaining staff can be counterintuitive and insensitive. It also sends mixed signals and brings into question whether your holiday layoffs were truly necessary.

If you really do want to celebrate the holiday season with your remaining employees, go low-key. A simple virtual gathering ought to be enough to show your appreciation. Besides, during tough times like this, it’s really the gesture that counts, right?

Exploring Other Alternatives

company restructure

No matter how compassionate and gentle you are about laying off people, make sure you explore and exhaust other alternatives first.

For example, you can restructure the team. Why not put your underperformers through in-house mentoring to give them a leg-up?

And instead of removing a couple of employees, why not halt pay raises temporarily? If that still won’t suffice, try a 5-percent pay reduction throughout the company. You could even mandate a higher percentage for those in top positions.

These alternatives are not as drastic and done right, they might help keep layoffs at bay. They’re also temporary so you can revert to the status quo once your business gets back on track. More importantly, they would help you retain their employees – and their goodwill.

Handling layoffs at any time of the year will always be a tough call. Luckily, there are experienced industry partners who can help you navigate difficult conversations.

Remote Staff has been helping Australian entrepreneurs like you partner with skilled remote workers from the Philippines for the last 14 years and counting. So whether you need assistance in onboarding or offboarding, we got you covered.

Call us today or schedule a call back so we can help you.

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Disclaimer: The above article was written according to the information available as of press time.
All opinions and beliefs expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Remote Staff's, its employees, subcontractors, clients, and affiliates.

About The Author

Serena has been working remotely and writing content for the better part of the last decade. To date, she's written for and Mabuhay Magazine, among others, and has churned out more than a thousand articles on everything from The Basics of Stock Market Investing to How to Make Milk Tea-Flavored Taho at home. Hermits, aspiring hermits, and non-hermits with interesting project propositions may email her at

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