Although we are officially out of recession, times are still tough for many public sector businesses and workers. With the huge public sector cuts announced in an attempt to reduce the budget deficit, it seems inevitable that layoffs will be a recurring event for the foreseeable future.
It can be difficult to know what to do to soften the blow. Redundancies come in many shapes and sizes, so what is appropriate for some will certainly not be for everyone. In some situations, it may be appropriate to give a severance gift. When layoffs are voluntary, for example, it might be appropriate to give a goodbye gift, as the employee will most likely not be too upset about leaving their job.
For managers close to a team who are about to be laid off, it might also be appropriate to give a gift as a memento of their time working together. In this case, it is more of a gift of friendship, which could help soften the impact.
When layoffs are likely to lead to bitterness and resentment, a gift is often not advisable, as this could make things worse. Being fired is a disturbing time for everyone involved, so any decision about whether to receive a gift must be carefully considered.
If you decide to go ahead and get a gift for people, there are some tips that you should follow to avoid a bad reaction.
Obviously, you don’t want to get something that looks cheap, but also be careful that your gift doesn’t look too flashy. Being told that you are losing your job to help the company survive, just to receive a generous gift, will make people resentful and, given the circumstances, they probably would have preferred the cash.
Consider personalizing the gift. This shows that it has been thought about and that the company has not produced the same for everyone. Consider engraving it with a name or message, or even the company logo if it isn’t going to cause too much of a hassle.
Choose your time carefully. Giving someone a gift right after you’ve told them the bad news is probably not the best time. If layoffs are announced days or weeks before employees leave, it would be a good gesture to give the gifts on their last day.