#41 - How to Make a Bad Situation Worse… An Artless Example of Laying Employees Off

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I get it. Layoffs are carried out as necessary exercises in business. They obviously have to occur at times, especially in hostile economic climates such as we are living through now. Believe me, I get it. I have my own business.

Theoretically, lay-offs are the result of business economics… a sort of ‘survival’ strategy for businesses in order to remain viable and to be able to keep afloat. They are not supposed to be taken personally by either the employer or the unfortunate employee. But, of course, we do take these things personally. How could we not? After all, we are all emotional creatures (whether we admit it or not). I would say it is downright healthy for both sides (employers included) to allow some space for their feelings as long as they are expressed in ways that are respectful. Employers would fare well by being empathetic and employee-focused when laying an employee off.

This brings me to one example where an employer has demonstrated that they obviously need an intensive ‘lay-off’ etiquette course… and quick. Just the other week I found out that the employer in question (a non-profit organization no less) carried out some lay-offs. Frankly I was shocked at how things were handled. It is a real shame when a non-profit organization behaves like a heartless corporate drone. In this case there were some major lay-off faux pas that took place. Some are as follows.

  1. The lay-offs were carried out on the first day back from holidays after there had been speculations that layoffs would take place before the holidays even started. Obviously nothing was going to change in those two weeks. It is a total disrespect for all employees that were and /or potentially affected. Who can truly relax and enjoy a holiday when they are not sure if they will have a job after it! Shame on the president and the board!

  2. The employees that were laid off were called in for a general meeting. All of their coworkers were called in for the same meeting. The two ill-fated employees were called in together ‘privately’, given letters and then left before the start of the meeting. Nothing like humiliating the employees that were laid off by forcing them to face their coworkers on their way out the door. What’s that about? What happened to preserving the dignity and professionalism of the laid-off employees? The president and the board members need some serious lessons in etiquette.

  3. Based on the lack of communication and total disregard of employee morale over the last few years (at least…it has been a few years when I noticed it), I am not in the least bit convinced that laying these employees off was necessary or will, in fact, benefit that association in the long term. If there had generally been more communication between employees and employer, other option could have surely been explored. Perhaps they could have added other activities that would have benefited other segments of the community that they are supposed to be serving. I doubt that the president or the board actually thought outside the box. This is an association that desperately needs to come up with sustainable solutions. They need to get their employees involved instead of trying to instill fear in them or disrespect them by not considering their expertise opinions.

I am not saying that the lay-offs were not necessary. They may well have been but I do feel that they were inappropriately handled and that other possible workable solutions were not properly considered. These faux pas have only made me feel that this association needs a new president and board members (FAST!!!) and that the employees left need to rally together and start working as a team in order to make real, viable changes that would not only make their association stronger and more beneficial to the community but also make their jobs more secure. I wish them the strength to come together to do what is necessary and what is just. Leaders need to encourage their teams to serve not only their communities but the teams themselves. In this way, team players are more apt to be inspired and consequently less likely to be fired.

Let’s open up our hearts.

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