One of the worst things I’ve ever had to do as an HR professional is organize a reduction in the workforce. It’s a terrible feeling. Employees have worked hard and don’t deserve to have their positions eliminated.
It’s tough to organize a layoff. No doubt about it. But, it’s a gut-wrenching moment to do it over the holidays.
I’ll never forget that conversation years ago. Sitting in my office and the phone rings. It’s my boss. He’s at the corporate offices explaining our latest financial numbers. He did that a lot. He tells me that we’re going to have to do a downsizing. I wasn’t surprised, our numbers hadn’t been good. I tell him OK and I’ll start working on it.
Then he tells me the rest.
We’re doing it the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
I’m like “What?! Are you crazy?!” (It’s a wonder I didn’t get fired for the remark.) He says “We have no choice.”
Fast forward to earlier this week when Yahoo announced it was laying off 600-700 employees. In December. Right before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
When this situation happened to me, I was mad. The company knew they weren’t doing great. It’s was ridiculous to think they weren’t forecasting and planning ahead. They didn’t just wake up Tuesday morning and discover they had no money or future sales. Now, I guess it is possible they were banking on a huge project coming in or some kind of financing that never materialized.
Look, it’s bad enough that employees are losing their jobs. But really, to lose them over the holidays because a company can’t forecast, budget and plan is just inexcusable.
Looking back, maybe that’s why our location was struggling. Because we didn’t know how to budget, forecast or plan. If we had, maybe we wouldn’t have ended up in the same circumstances.
Okay, sure, I know that Monday Morning Quarterback is the easiest job in the world so it’s easy for me to be critical. And there may be a world of circumstances that go into Yahoo’s decision to get rid of 700 employees right before the holidays. Who knows, maybe this wasn’t just the easiest solution – it was the only solution. All I know is, the situation sucked back then and it sure sucks now.
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