this isn’t how you make layoff decisions

This is dumb on so many levels that I don’t even know where to begin:

Newspaper tells two employees to decide between themselves which one will be laid off

Oh fine, I’ll begin here:  You don’t make layoff decisions arbitrarily — you make them based on actual business factors, looking at performance, what the company will need going forward, tenure if all else is equal, etc. This is a total abdication of management responsibility.

Plus, there’s the little matter of it being grossly cruel.

{ 44 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    That’s sickening. It’s abhorrently cruel, but also a complete derliction duty. Glad management is making decisions so thoughtfully.

    1. Josh S*

      No, they should tell the boss that the two of them decided that it was his job that was being eliminated.

  2. Anon*

    The article actually says that the one with seniority gets to keep her position, all else equal, so all that management is doing here is trying to shift the blame.

    1. jesicka309*

      This. ^
      If they knew one had seniority, and let her make the decision, shouldn’t that have been the decision of management? Report A has seniority, we’ll keep her. Sorry report B.
      There, that was a better decision already..stupid

  3. Schnauz*

    It’s completely ridiculous and a prime example of poor, poor, poor management. I don’t know who made the terrible decision to do this but they need to not manage people anymore. Or animals.

  4. Amouse*

    Not to mention of all professions to do this to, they do this to REPORTERS. Did they really think this would not get reported on?!

  5. Katie the Fed*

    Why do people get into management if they don’t care at least a little bit about, you know, PEOPLE?

    1. Michael*

      Business is about the bottom line and not being peoples’ buddies. Still, a *good* manager will care about their subordinates general well being and try to figure things out and even help as they can.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        admittedly I work for the government so the bottom line is a little different, but the best managers I ever had understood that if you take care of your people they take care of the mission (with guidance of course).

  6. Not So NewReader*

    This could start a new conversation thread entitled: “You know managers can’t manage WHEN…….”

  7. Waerloga*

    And yet… strangely reminiscent.

    This was (basically) how my department was shut down.

    They targeted the senior techs, and told them that they were to be laid off (or retire if they were 55+) or they could choose to bump one of the junior techs (they were told that they could only bump within the department).

    One by one, all of the ladies chose to retire, leaving just 1 supervisor, 2 techs, and 2 Aides left (out of a department of 12). Seconded one of the techs for IT /Software development, then they shut down the department, putting both techs into lay off (subject to recall for 1 year).

    Management targeted the positions so they didn’t have to “follow the rules” and lay off the most junior tech first (err.. me at 27+ years of service). Caused great stress and heartache during the 4 years that it took to finally close the department.

    Happily the IT/Software fellow got an excluded position with a 1 year contract (so they could finish the project), and I… I went back to BCIT and have just gained my Radiation Safety Officer certificates.

    But bad management… yes. Unheard of? Alas no.

      1. A Teacher*

        Subject to recall at least in my contract as a teacher means you were laid off or let go, usually in our case, because of budgetry reasons; program numbers; or elimination of program but you must be recalled and offered a position before they hire anyone else for a position in which you are qualified within a set time frame. For teachers in our district, it is one calender year.

        1. Anonymous*

          Thanks – for a moment I had thought that it meant they could call you back when they felt like it, with no option on your part.

      2. Waerloga*

        Mostly it means that they can delay any payout of severance for up to 1 year (and no benefits medical etc).

        I was told by the overall Director of the labs that I was unqualified for any position, and would not ever be so. Which struck me as ironic as I had to train about 6 techs over a period of 9 months. They were from the other department who took over our testing (this while the other tech was seconded).

        There once was a Dilbert cartoon about Ted being laid off… tag line was something like “Involuntary vacation from Payroll for 1 year”… Some days it’s surprising how accurate the man can be.

  8. kristinyc*

    Yeah, this is absolutely horrid. Hopefully the coverage of this story will help with the laid-off reporter’s job search.

    ….also – the very last part of the article (about the “winner” being the person who broke the story about PeeWee Herman being a creeper)!? What?!?

    1. Sasha*

      Just a somewhat-related tidbit to close out the story, I learned about those when I took media writing. And yes, many are just as awkward as that one.

  9. AdAgencyChick*

    No, this is not dumb. Dumb implies a lack of knowledge, cluelessness. This is not something any grownup can fail to realize is wrong, which makes it worse than dumb — it’s a cowardly abdication of responsibility. Which I cannot dignify with the word “dumb.”

    1. Long Time Admin*

      Actually, “dumb” means “silent”.

      I think the word you need is “stupid”. It does indicate deliberate decision.

  10. Victoria HR*

    I wouldn’t have minded being on the receiving end of this at a previous job where I was miserable and desperately looking for another job, and my coworker desperately needed to keep hers to stay financially afloat. I would have easily taken the layoff and claimed unemployment since I already had resumes and interviews going anyway.

    Otherwise, meh.

  11. Amanda*

    That’s not unlike something that happened in my department at my previous job. We were called together in June and told that by November, one of us would be laid off, so we should all start looking for jobs. The first person to leave would basically save the rest of us. One person did find a great new job, and those of us left basically lost any sense of loyalty or dedication to the organization.

  12. Mike C.*

    This is like that scene in the second Batman movie where the Joker breaks a pool stick over his knee and encourages the two “candidates” to “try out” for their new job.

  13. Lanya*

    Maybe the company could go Old Testament – give both parties an infant to fight over, suggest it be cut in half, and judge their reactions in order to determine who should be laid off….

    1. Roja*

      I think that would be a tad too soft for the manager who came up with this, I’m pretty sure he or she would appreciate russian roulette a bit more!

  14. Rob Bird*

    Why not just have them fight it out, gladiator style? How is it the person that thought this was a good idea is still employed?

  15. Elizabeth*

    I read the reader ombudsman’s column every day, since it is a good look at the inside workings of the paper. I have forwarded this to him, along with a link to a political blog it was highlighted on. I told him the paper is suddenly the talk of the web, but not in a good way.

  16. CW*

    “We decided that we both stay, we’ll take half money and work half the hours. We’ll both spend the rest of our time selling our extra work on the newswires.”

  17. Jake*

    This is the logical next step in the line of thought many companies have during layoffs. I work in the construction industry, and it is common for us to ask people to volunteer for layoffs, both short-term and long-term. If there are not enough volunteers, it goes by merit.

    In fact, this could have been their intention all along, just very poorly communicated. They even said that if one of them had the final call, which is almost the equivalent of saying, “hey there are layoffs, if there are no volunteers we are keeping you.”

    Is it fair, of course not. But I don’t think it is as bad as it seems at first glance.

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