If you are prepping for a reduction in force (RIF), know you’re not alone. B2B SaaS and other tech organizations of varying sizes have recently reduced their workforces due to the economic climate. This action is never easy to execute, much less prepare a comms strategy for.
Balancing internal and external communications
Approaching the complex process internally requires a carefully planned schedule of communication, including informing affected employees followed by informing the rest of the organization. Prioritize empathy and leaving space for questions.
Externally, uncertainty around what might be said about your organization because of a layoff can be scary. You can’t control what an editor might write or a former employee might say, but you can be thorough, prepared and empathetic in your communication to soften the blow. We’ve been guiding some of our SaaS clients through preparations for RIFs. Here are the recommendations and takeaways we’ve provided to those exploring this action.
- Empathy is paramount for those employees leaving and those staying. Create space for transparency and questions. A tool like SuggestionOx.com can provide anonymity for those who need it. For example, SuggestionOx enables employees to submit questions or statements anonymously, and leadership could answer them and address concerns at a company all-hands meeting.
- Have a plan. Timing and messaging of communication can make or break the success of communicating sensitive news. Involve HR, communication and leadership teams in the plan to make sure you examine all angles and possible questions.
- Ensure all comms, both internal and external, are something you’d be comfortable with investors and customers seeing, as any communication can become public. Messaging consistency across all communications channels is important.
- Prepare a media statement in case of an inbound or leak. If a media contact finds out your organization reduced its workforce (such as an influx in social media posts), it’s not the end of the world. Your SaaS PR team can help inform the media response and would aim to answer the question succinctly with facts.
- If you’re putting together your statement, here is an example. Be sure to include confirmation of the RIF and what kind of resources you’re providing affected employees.
- “COMPANY confirms a small percentage of the organization was laid off in a company restructuring. All impacted individuals received severance packages and continued health benefits, though specific details are confidential.”
- Context among other comms matters. For example, don’t let your C-suite make a super-positive LinkedIn post about recent promotions around the same time you’re making cuts.
If your organization finds a RIF is necessary, thoroughly prepare an internal and external strategy. A SaaS PR agency or other trusted comms partner can offer an outsider’s perspective on potential gaps. This is why building your employer brand is so important. A strong brand can overcome tough times, even a RIF.
For more guidance on executing a PR campaign despite a RIF, contact Kimberly Jefferson.