Layoffs in 2019? What Now?

· by Herb Dew

Herb is the CEO of HTI. He founded HTI in 1999 along with John Knight and David Sewell, and remains heavily involved in the organization today.
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With Q1 behind us, we should be getting a better sense of economic projections for the year (including layoffs). However, in some ways, the picture isn’t that clear.

Some reports are incredibly optimistic, while some have a much different take, particularly with regards to the automotive and retail markets.

News of mergers and workforce consolidations continue to make headlines. Major automotive companies continue slashing their sedan lines – consequently creating a ripple effect that impacts the entire supply chain.

As these effects develop in our markets, companies face difficult decisions regarding their workforce. Over my 30-year career, I have typically seen companies respond in one of two ways after determining downsizing is necessary:

Company A

  1. Understands how they plan to downsize.
  2. Values the impact on their remaining employees’ morale.
  3. Cares about their affected associates and engages in outplacement services.  Sets them up for the best possible future.
  4. Understands the public image consequences on the company.


Company B

  1. Doesn’t plan effectively or think about the announcement and the ramifications of the layoff.
  2. Communicates poorly, resulting in instability throughout the company.
  3. Releases employees with minimal notice and poorly thought out training and separation services.
  4. Chooses to utilize outplacement only as a last resort. Typically to help stop the negative impact they are receiving in the community and/or with their remaining employees.


Although Company B’s outplacement approach is better than nothing, it does not have the same impact as Company A. Why? Because Company A approached the layoff with a well-thought-out plan that considered the full effect the layoff would have on all employees.

My experience over the years has shown that almost all companies fall into one of these two categories.

The companies that took the time to plan for this difficult situation compassionately are the companies that retained some of their top performers and came back stronger as the economy strengthened again. Companies that made the short-term decision, planned poorly, announced the layoffs inadequately and didn’t treat those exiting employees the way that they could have, found that they continued to lose key employees and were not positioned well when the economy came back stronger.

The companies we work with have lots of questions about outplacement and tend to involve us well before announcements are made that employees will be laid off.

The more forethought put into a layoff and the impact it will have on both existing and affected employees, the cleaner that transition is. Thus, the faster that company will return to normal. HTI has over 30 years of experience working with companies that go through this difficult transition. If you would like to have a private consultation about a hard decision that you might be facing, we’re available at any time to discuss how we can help you.

Please visit our booth at the Greenville SHRM HR & Management Conference on May 9th, 2019 at the Greenville Convention Center. We would love to discuss more about how outplacement can benefit your company.