1. Help each laid off employee land on their feet, whatever that means for them. This must NOT be lip service, but a legitimate effort. Hire an outsourcing firm, provide resume/career counseling, provide reference letters, or find job opportunities with vendors, customers, or industry contacts.
2. Make a clean transition. Give laid off people an opportunity to share what they were working on and debrief others. Even though they are leaving, many people value the work they have done and want to know that it’s in good hands. If you don’t do this, you might as well be saying, “We can figure out what you were working on without you.” Nothing else you say or do will offset the damage this will do.
3. Find a way whenever possible for people to keep contributing as contractors or part-time employees.
4. Find a way for people to keep their health insurance.
5. Offer severance whenever possible.
As uncomfortable as a layoff can be, it’s also an opportunity to show how well you can do the tough stuff.
People will be watching and remembering; count on it.