Herbert M. Cannon, President of AEC Management Solutions Inc.
1. Reassure the Staff
The remaining staff is understandably upset and angry that their coworkers have been let go. Of course, they are also relieved that it didn't happen to them. What they need right now is some reassurance that the reductions were not made with malice but with an eye toward preserving jobs and the company for the long-term. Younger staff who have experienced nothing but good times will need special attention.
2. Ask Employees for Cost-Saving Ideas
When business is good, overhead expenses tend to grow and fly under the radar of accountability. Your staff knows where the money is being wasted, so ask for their help. You might be surprised at their ideas and the sacrifices they are willing to make.
3. Change the Voice Mail
Make sure to immediately change the voice mail password of all terminated employees. On more than one occasion, I have connected to voice mails that said something along the lines of "I can't take your call because I have been laid-off." Sometimes the voice mail was not that polite. Don't let this happen to you.
4. Cancel the Cell Phone
If your employees have company cell phones, be sure to get them returned and cancel the plan. Even if there is a termination fee, you will generally save money in the long run by canceling.
5. Sell/Donate or Recycle
I am not sure if there is a market for used smart phones, but if there is, you can try to sell them. In the alternative, they can be donated to a worthy cause or at least recycled. Don't let them sit there gathering dust.
6. Handle the Paperwork
Be sure to handle all of the paperwork immediately. Whether it is responding to an unemployment insurance claim or coordinating COBRA insurance, do it quickly and accurately. The departing employees have enough stress dealing being out of work. Do your best to make the transition as easy as possible.
7. Sell the Computers
Now that you have less staff, you are left with the question of what to do with all of the unused computer equipment. All too often, the computers stay where they are gathering dust or are relegated to the storage area only to be discarded several years later when they have no useful value. If there is no market to sell them, donate them to a worthy cause and take a tax deduction. Whether you sell or donate them, don't forget to reformat the hard drive and remove all of the software applications.
8. Change the Passwords
It seems obvious that employee computer passwords need to be changed, but it is too important not too state it here. I know of several firms who did not handle this promptly and paid the price of missing files and other problems.
9. Reduce your Telephone Landlines
If your 50-person firm had 25 landlines and your staff has been reduced to 35, do you really need 25 landlines? Probably not—but it can be one of those hidden costs that is easily overlooked. Some firms can go on for years paying for lines that are not needed and never used.
10. Change the Locks and Alarm Codes
Once again, it seems obvious, but make sure you get it done. In the age of electronics, locks codes can be changed every day if need be. Key cards can be activated and deactivated at will.
11. Reduce your Software Subscriptions
Are your paying an annual subscription fee based in the number of licenses or employees? Many software firms have switched to this model in recent years. Now that you have fewer employees, you may be entitled to a reduced rate or need fewer licenses.
12. Reconfigure your Office and Sublease Space
During the boom years, many firms tried to squeeze 10 pounds of talent into 5 pounds of space. This overcrowding led to less a less than optimum working environment for many employees. Now that the layoffs have taken place, this is a great opportunity to reconfigure your seating assignments and provide a more pleasant and productive working environment for your remaining employees. You can also make desk space available for rental to freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Herbert M. Cannon, president of AEC Management Solutions Inc. and publisher of AEC Managing Partner newsletter, is a management consultant, seminar provider, and speaker exclusive to the A/E industry. He is available to speak at company meetings and conferences. For more information, contact Herb via e-mail or visit his Web site.
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