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USGNN Original StoryConsultant Shares Employer Tips for Best Managing Layoffs

Last week alone, tens of thousands of layoffs were made all over the United States and, according to government reports, 4.8 million Americans were collecting unemployment by mid-January.

The construction industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, an estimated two-thirds of the nation's non-residential construction companies are planning layoffs this year-an expected 30-percent decline in the number of people working on construction projects.

Even though layoffs and cutbacks are becoming more and more frequent, they certainly aren't becoming easier-and in many cases that goes for the employer just as much as the employees.

For companies faced with having to make layoffs there are a few things that may help ensure a smooth process. Gene Grabowski is a senior vice president with Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington D.C.-based firm that councils companies and corporations in crisis, such as layoffs, plant closings and bankruptcies. He says there are three things an employer should take into account when having to make layoffs.

"The first is to be transparent and to communicate with both internal and external audiences about what you're going through; you may need them again later on [when the economy] turns around, so there's no need to hide," Grabowski says. "In times like these you can honestly say the reason you have to do this is because of the economy. Use the fact that you're not the only company going through these situations. Be direct and speak to those external audiences; they all understand and appreciate directness."

The second step when having to make layoffs, Grabowski says, is to do them all at once.

"Breaking them up only stretches out the situation and will make those people [in small groups] feel isolated," he explains. "The smaller the group you layoff the more those people will feel inadequate as employees."

And finally, Grabowski says to always take the opportunity to include a message about the future.

"Tell them what you're looking forward to doing once things turn around. A positive message will be a welcome surprise … have a future message about the better days that will return," says Grabowski.

For all companies in these tight times Grabowski adds that it's critical to be open, honest and communicate with employees, their communities and with Wall Street what they are going through.

"So when the company does come back the company can come back stronger and with good will from those around."

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