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Offer strategic, future-focused supports for existing employees


No one likes layoffs, but they may be unavoidable as global business trends lead to corporate reorganizations that require job cuts. But you can approach offboarding in an honest, equitable, and employee-centered way.

Successful strategies include retraining programs focused on skills for high-growth industries, generous severance packages, and career navigation resources for displaced workers.

1. What You Can Do

Impact Employers set up ethical offboarding programs to help their workers prepare for future job opportunities. Provide guidance and support for employees, whether or not they are at risk of being laid off, to navigate the challenge of finding a new role within your organization, at another company, or even in another industry.

Bridge Support: Give all employees a holistic severance package (one that includes monetary compensation, health insurance, and outplacement assistance) and support from HR professionals who can help employees navigate their exits. 

  • Provide all laid-off employees with at least three months of severance pay, as well as continued short-term health insurance coverage.
  • Provide access to outplacement assistance programs to connect former employees to their next opportunities.
  • Ensure that a lack of access to technology does not impede displaced workers’ efforts to find new opportunities. Provide access to computers (either directly or through a partner organization) so workers can look for new jobs.
  • Cover the cost of job search tools and platform subscriptions.

Training: Offer former employees training that leads to opportunities in high-growth industries. 

  • Determine what skills are most essential to offboarded workers from your industry. Include flexible funding for this training in exit packages.
  • Set a target for former employee job placement (such as 50% of former employees obtaining employment within five weeks) and work toward it.
  • Partner with local community colleges or nonprofits to set up programs offering workers access to training. 
  • Create an ongoing learning environment that enables workers to keep their skills up to date so they will be well positioned to compete for other jobs in the event of a transition.

Continued Engagement: Continue to engage with former employees through an alumni program.

  • Build employee alumni groups to connect displaced employees to one another for strategic networking.

Offboarding Resources: Ensure that your company has sufficient resources (including people who can offer expert advice) to make individualized services available to departing employees.

  • Stagger offboarding processes in which responsibilities are steadily transferred from departing employees over weeks or months, enabling remaining teams to avoid abrupt and jarring changes in their daily work. 
  • Solicit feedback on your offboarding strategy by surveying offboarded employees and monitoring comments on workplace review websites.
  • Build internal norms and training for managers to help them understand why good offboarding is critical to the success of the business.
  • Assess internal language and HR terminology to be supportive of a long-term relationship with employees.

Strategic Offboarding Pipelines: Connect with representatives of other businesses and partners in other industries to identify new employment opportunities for displaced workers.

  • Build sustainable relationships with companies in other industries whose workforce skill base is similar to yours.
  • Build partnerships with local workforce development boards, community colleges, and nonprofits to ensure that terminated employees have access to reskilling and job placement opportunities.

2. What You’ll Gain

Companies that approach offboarding in an honest, equitable, employee-centered way through initiatives that include retraining programs and other supports will be better positioned to mitigate the costs, lost productivity, and brand damage often associated with layoffs.

Quick Stats

  • Because they enable companies to maintain positive relationships with departing employees, responsible offboarding programs limit the administrative HR burdens associated with layoffs and reduce the likelihood that people who are unhappy about being terminated will, for instance, vandalize the company’s equipment or try to steal confidential information.
  • Offboarding can prevent post-employment litigation, which can cost a company between $75,000 and $125,000 per employee in the United States.
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Learn From Successful Changemakers

Check out JFF’s guidance on how to ethically downsize in a way that builds future economic advancement opportunities for former employees and promotes long-term employee engagement and loyalty.