Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Massive Layoff, or Slowly Let People Go

I was asked this question today, and I think it deserves a little bit of discussion. I will share my take on the subject, and then share the opinions I received from several of my friends on Twitter. Feel free to add your comments.
Let me come straight out with my main opinion - any excuse to not take care of the layoff all at once is covering selfish motives. Either we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, we don't want to face the music, we don't want to be the "bad" guy, or we are just scared or a bit cowardice. If the layoff is what the business needs, then it has to be done - period. Not doing it all at once will cost the firm money and could put everyone who is left in jeopardy as well.
I recently heard an entrepreneur needing to do a layoff say that he would reduce everyone's wages (instead of doing a layoff) and wait for certain people to quit. I have two issues with this - first, this entrepreneur is a coward who is afraid to confront his people with the truth, especially the ones he wants to let go. Second, if I were a betting man, I would bet that the employees he wants to leave will stay and his star players will leave.
I posed this question on Twitter and here are the replies from folks from all walks of life (just a quick reminder that Twitter only allows responses in 140 total characters or less, so please appreciate the abbreviations and brevity:

@jeremyhanks - Layoff all at once if u at all can. Get the shock through the system, people hate change, slowly might get u into the death spiral.

@MaritaR - Better putting things to an awful end than to perpetuate an awful time - massive layoff sadly better than a long time uncertainty.

@LearnSolMary - If must lay off, get it over with & move on so wound can heal. Wd ask client to be absolutely sure layoffs are the only way.

@virtualcfo - One cut and let the remaining employees now that they are ok . If not, moral and productivity will be hurt while waiting for the ax.

@VAinParadise - IMO Massive layoff and get it over with. When done is spurts it puts unnecessary stress on everyone and kills moral/production.