This is the time of year when many employees will be receiving their annual bonuses. It’s also the time when many employees will not. This can be a sensitive subject for employers to navigate with their employees, whether bonuses are much lower than expected or they won’t receive them at all. Breaking this news to employees is not only difficult, it can risk lowering employee morale and productivity. To make breaking the news easier, we’ve provided our best tips for HR professionals and managers for breaking bad news to employees.
Have a plan.
Before you begin the conversation, think about your plan of action. Know all of the points you need to make, and write them down if needed. If the conversation starts to become emotional, return to your objectives and be firm.
Be clear and direct.
There’s no need to make the conversation longer than it needs to be. When meeting with the employee, be as clear and direct as possible. While being specific is important, there’s no need to review every detail of the matter. If you provide too much information, it’s easy to lose the real message.
Give employees room to speak.
Don’t dismiss employees right away. Ask if they have any questions and give them room to express their thoughts on the matter, even if there’s nothing to be done about the situation. This will let them know that their concerns are being heard and can help to keep morale level.
Be specific on the issues.
If you can, let them know exactly why bonuses aren’t available this year. Was it their performance? The company’s overall sales? You don’t need to get into every detail, but letting employees know exactly why they aren’t receiving a bonus can cut down the rumor mill.
Take ownership of the problem.
If you’re the one making the announcement, whether it’s in a group or individual meeting, you must take ownership of the decision. It’s bad form to blame those higher up the chain. In order to hold on to your employees’ trust, explain the issues without placing too much blame.
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