Retail Layoffs: How to Protect Your Brand During a Reduction in Force

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INTOO Staff Writer


Due to changes in shopping habits, overhiring, poor growth predictions, economic conditions, and other direct and indirect forces, retail layoffs have been spreading through the industry, from online shops to big box stores. The layoffs have affected corporate positions as well as store employees as locations shutter, sales slow, and organizations attempt to manage rising expenses.

If you are a retailer facing marketplace challenges, you might have to reduce your workforce in order to survive. But how can you protect your brand when you announce retail store layoffs? Below are three ways retail companies can better navigate their reductions in force.

4 Ways to Better Manage Retail Layoffs

1. Empathize With Your Employees

Anger, despair, panic — these are just some of the emotions your employees might experience when you announce a reduction in force (RIF).

Disgruntled employees can take to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and share their experiences with the world, including your target customers and job candidates. In 2020, Glassdoor reviews containing the term layoffs rose 73%

This is why it’s important to manage retail job cuts properly. If you don’t, you could jeopardize the reputation of your brand. As a human resources professional, empathize with your employees as they undergo this difficult transition. Validate their emotions and, as much as possible, alleviate fears they might have. This could prevent former employees from leaving negative posts on social media, which could seriously damage your brand.

2. Communicate More Effectively

Communication is crucial during an RIF, even if you don’t know all the answers. Some viral reports have told about impacted employees who learned of their termination by being locked out of their companies’ networks or via an abrupt email. However,  Swipe CEO Patrick Collison was compassionate, clear, informative and direct in his communications with employees. He took responsibility for the layoffs, explained what benefits employees would receive upon their departure, and provided resources to help employees with the news. Offering this type of information in layoff notifications can help retail layoffs go more smoothly. 

In addition, don’t forget to also communicate and empathize with the retail employees that remain in your workforce. These workers will have fears, too. They might think there will be future retail store layoffs, and they will be next to lose their jobs. If unaddressed, these fears could have an impact on productivity, which could affect your company’s bottom line.

3. Offer Career Transition Resources

Assisting your corporate and store employees by offering outplacement can help your employees move on more quickly after a layoff. Career coaching along with a technology platform filled with job seeker resources can help impacted employees find new work faster. Such benefits can also help protect both your employer and consumer brands by communicating your respect and care for your employees.

4. Maintain Relationships With Laid-Off and Furloughed Employees

When it comes to an RIF, never burn bridges. Maintaining some kind of relationship with former employees will help you if you need additional retail staff in the future. 

The Great Resignation showed just how challenging it can be for retail organizations to find talent. When the time comes to increase your workforce, being able to rehire former employees is a valuable tool for talent acquisition. These employees, aka “boomerang employees,” onboard quickly and can refer other candidates

In Conclusion

A RIF can be difficult for any retail employee, but it can also take its toll on the retailer’s brand. Follow the tips above in order to protect your brand’s reputation during a layoff, and make sure you provide former and existing employees with the support they need.

(This article, originally posted in 2019, has been updated.)

INTOO’s outplacement program helps employees transition to new jobs through an unlimited number of hours of one-on-one, on-demand coaching from premier career counselors, resume reviews, and other career services. Learn more about how our outplacement program can benefit your company when you’re transitioning employees.

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

Learn how to effectively build and transition your workforce.

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