I hope there is another pandemic… ok, it’s not what you think. I’m not talking about a medical or disease related pandemic, rather a pandemic of support, selflessness and a willingness to help those in need. This is actually something that should always be happening, but now more than ever we really need this mindset.
A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see a LinkedIn posting that goes something like this – “… I was recently laid off and am looking for a new role…” or “…it’s been a wonderful journey, but due to COVID19, today is my last day with such and such company…”
I am directing this message at companies. Now is not the time to be selfish, now is not the time to “take advantage” of the COVID19 outbreak to find “efficiencies” (for those that may not know, efficiencies is just another way of saying eliminate jobs), now is not the time to downsize and overwork those who remain just because you can.
People are in need, some are desperate. I totally understand the desire to make your numbers, but if you can survive the economic downturn, then think twice before laying off that individual contributor or front-line worker who desperately needs their job. Think twice about laying off that person that only has two years until retirement (they will never find another job… they won’t), think twice before laying off that young person who just bought their first house.
Yes, you have a fiduciary duty to your Board and stakeholders, and no I am not suggesting you bankrupt your company. But these are extraordinary times and we should each challenge ourselves to think about how we can get our countries… our people through this ordeal. Now IS the time to step up, step forward and make those brave decisions to retain people even though the playbook says to look for “efficiencies”. Anyone can cut costs by cutting headcount… that’s easy and making that decision isn’t leadership. Making the difficult decision to retain headcount during this unique moment in history IS.
Which legacy do you want to be associated with?
CHOICE 1: “…everyone was laying people off, we had to”
or would you rather be in this camp?
CHOICE 2: “…it was damn near impossible, and it hurt, but we kept people employed during the pandemic”.
Not sure anyone would choose the first option, but I’m pretty sure everyone would be proud to share the second.
Again, I’m not suggesting bankrupting a company to retain every employee, but I am suggesting that companies should keep as many as they can, for as long as they can. Find creative solutions…I don’t know maybe people have to share a role and still get half pay while they look for something more permanent. I don’t have all the answers but I do think it’s time to think differently about how employee layoffs are handled – maybe it’s time for a new playbook!
I’m not naïve, and knowing what I do about corporations, I doubt this will change any behavior, but maybe just one person will have their role saved. That would be good – let’s start with just one and see where that takes us.
Thanks for indulging me.