There is nothing easy about employee layoffs. The discussion and decision making is fraught with conflict and concern about potential backlash. The hardest part comes when the layoff is communicated to affected employees. Preparation helps the entire process for the company, individuals who loose a job and the staff who keep their jobs.
Effective preparation and communication includes creating a package of information for laid off employees. A reference letter should be included in this content. A well written reference will help avoid miscommunication.
The reference letter does not have to be a detailed description of job duties and performance. In a layoff situation the best letters simply state the dates the individual was employed including any job changes or promotions. “Henry was employed by XYZ Company beginning on
The letter should close with the name of the best person to contact for additional information. This format has a number of advantages. It is clear, direct and not subjective. It gives the reader the name of the person to contact for a reference. This minimizes the potential for and untrained staff member to respond to a reference call by saying, “Henry, oh he was let go when we cut all the old timers.” If the reference call comes in to someone who was not familiar with the employee, or the nature of the layoff, they can read a copy of the letter in the personnel file and direct the caller to the right reference.
Layoffs have become common place whether business is down or not. Many employers do not look twice at a prepared reference letter. Has anyone every handed you a letter that lists the candidate’s shortcomings? A simple letter that documents the layoff and provides a connection will be much more valuable.