Organizations can find themselves facing tough times for a variety of reasons. Tough times tend to call for tough decisions to be made – workforce reduction is one of those. No matter your industry or how long your organization has been in business, they’re are never fun for anyone involved.  

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make layoffs as painless as possible. There are also potential alternatives to consider before you decide whether letting employees go is the right choice for your organization. 

Communication is Key 

Effective communication is imperative during a workforce reduction. It’s essential for maintaining the morale of the remaining staff and the goodwill of those that you’re letting go of who may one day return to work for the company.  

When it’s time to let team members go, be upfront and give the employees a clear reason why the workforce reduction is taking place. Make sure you provide them with as much notice as possible. Early notice may even improve productivity during the period employees anticipate layoffs due to feelings of uncertainty. You’ll also want to let your team know that you plan to provide help for those you’re laying off.  

Outplacement Services Can Help

You can help make the transition easier for your laid-off employees by offering outplacement services through employment outsourcing agencies.  

Some of these services include: 

  • Assistance with filing for unemployment benefits. 
  • Counseling to help prepare or polish up resumes 
  • Providing leads and contacts to connect job seekers with potential opportunities. 
  • Preparing letters of recommendation. 
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Is Workforce Reduction Your Only Option? 

There are other potential ways to deal with downturns besides downsizing your productive workforce. Here are some workforce reduction alternatives worth considering: 

  • Get employees cross-trained so they can handle different jobs when needed. 
  • Share the load by reducing everyone’s hours during tough times. 
  • Put a temporary freeze on hiring and wages 
  • Holding off on wage increases  
  • Reduce your fringe benefits 
  • Offer and incentivize early retirement 
  • Cut costs everywhere else possible 

Could Outsourcing Help?

No matter what approach you decide on, know that outsourcing some business functions, such as office management or human resources, is always an option. Outsourcing can help cut costs since you’ll only pay for the specific services you require and won’t have the extra overhead costs associated with having to hire more in-house employees.  

Outsourcing can provide you with a team of experts that are specialized in their respective fields. It offers flexibility as it can scale up or down based on your business changes and you only pay for the services your organization needs, which may allow you to reallocate resources and potentially prevent further or future workforce reduction. 


Nearly every organization faces challenging times at one point or another. It’s how you handle them that makes the difference. Be prepared, think before you act, and know that the decisions you make during tough times can strengthen your business and help it not only survive but thrive for years to come. 

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