News & Insights

HR Best PracticesOctober 17, 2023by Todd Stanton‘Tis the Season to Fire

The holidays are around the corner, which means “no fire season” is about to kick off. If you’re considering a reduction in force, now is the time.

As the holiday season approaches, the craziness of planning, hosting, and impressing family members and loved ones picks up. Gifts, dinners, and travel fill the to-do lists of you and your team members. Tidings and goodwill are on most minds, and nothing can spoil that more — for everyone — than letting someone go. 

Before hitting the peak of the festive season, organizations should consider the intricacies of workforce adjustments, encompassing timing, severance strategies, and the impact on company culture now. It is smart to make the tough, reduction in force decisions before ruining everyone’s holiday season. And before you think that it will only affect the person you are letting go, think again.

We like to say “no fire season” starts the week before Thanksgiving and runs until January when kids are back in school and life settles back down again. Terminating people during this “no fire season” is a bad idea for many reasons, including: 

  1. It amps up the temperature on the separation – demand letters and lawsuits are more likely.
  2. It creates panic among not only the person affected by the separation, but your entire workforce.
  3. Your company is easily demagogued as a heartless Grinch.

People are panicked, and when they get let go, they immediately think it’s unfair.

So if you’re not now addressing performance problems or austerity measures you believe need to be taken before the year end, we recommend you wait until January.

How do you decide who should be let go in a Reduction In Force? 

First, ask yourself if a reduction in force, a RIF, is really necessary. Can you cut other costs? Is it worth the investment you’ve already made in this team and the investment you’ll need to make in future staff? Letting people go should typically be the last resort. If you have no choice, we have a few recommendations you need to hear. Unfortunately, we’ve walked many clients through the RIF process. Watch this video to hear important advice about how to determine who should be let go in a reduction in force, and why this is not something to do arbitrarily or to take lightly.


Before making any year-end workforce decisions, discuss the situation with one of our experienced employment attorneys to ensure that your actions align with legal and ethical standards. It’s crucial to strike a balance between necessary business adjustments and maintaining a healthy workplace culture. If it boils down to the need for a RIF, we have processes and templates ready to apply to your business, we know the right questions to ask, and we’ll help you make this situation a little less awful.