If you have to reduce try to do the following to make it as painless as possible for the remaining staff:
1. Try to do the layoffs in one fell swoop. There is nothing worse than having one wave of lay offs and then have another one following shortly thereafter. Creates incredible uncertainty for the remaining team.
2. It is better to cut too many positions rather than not enough and have to reduce the work force again in a short period.
3. Provide at least one week of severance for every year of service. If you can not provide this, then at lease try to provide some notice period so that these families will have a period to adjust
4. Find out prior to communicating the news to those impacted about any local job groups that employees can get involved in. If you can afford it, offer some form of outplacement services.
5. Communicate to those impacted first and then make sure you have a concise message for your remaining team. Be sure to include how you are committed to the future success of the business.
6. Take out your performers prior to laying off. These are people you know you should have gotten rid of before, now is the best time to take that action. Your great employees know who the poor performers are way before you do - so be sure to action them out of the organization.
7. Provide each departing employee a written document stating the action, what they are receiving as far as severance and benefits continuance information. They can this take this to unemployment to file for unemployment benefits.
8. You may want to consider using open book management going forward if you have not already done this. This allows the employees to understand when the business is off it's revenue or net income numbers so there are not any huge "surprises".
9. Keep your top performers engaged and on the team! You need them now more than ever.
If you would like assistance through your next down sizing, including specific communication guidance, etc. feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.