The layoff runway lengthens

The layoff process used to be abrupt: a worker learns their job has been cut and they leave the same day (sometimes with a security escort). Now, some companies are alerting employees that their roles will be eliminated months in advance, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 10. 

The longer runways — adopted by the likes of Wells Fargo and Disney — benefit both employer and employee, according to the Journal

Many companies overhired during the pandemic, causing the white-collar job market to tighten. Employers, now sporting the upper hand, are adding additional steps to their hiring processes to ensure they choose the right candidate. A longer goodbye gives them time to be more selective when bringing on replacements. 

Advance layoff notice also benefits employees by giving them more time to find a new opportunity and figure out their finances while still collecting a paycheck. This reflects positively on employers, who have faced increased social media backlash for mass layoffs this year. It also shows existing and prospective employees that the company aims to treat them fairly — a practice that could improve retention rates in the future, Wade Rogers, senior vice president of global human resources and chief compliance officer at the chemical company Huntsman, told the Journal

"How we handle ourselves and how we handle our relationships with our associates matters," Mr. Rogers said. 

A long layoff period is more dangerous at some companies, such as those where a begrudged employee can access confidential patents or business plans, according to the Journal. Others worry that workers who receive advance notice of their impending layoff will lose motivation while continuing to collect their pay. 

Jennifer Bender, who most recently served as senior vice president of human resources at the technology company Change Healthcare, recommended letting these employees know they could still be terminated sooner if they give the company due cause. At her company, which informed people of their layoff date two to four weeks in advance, this reduced security concerns. 

"It's really a best practice at this point," Ms. Bender told the Journal.

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