Article (October-2018)


Whats the alternative to layoffs?

Priyanka Dutta

Designation : -   Transition Coach

Organization : -  ACC-ICF, Gurugram


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Corporate is a place where a professional spends much of his/her time. He/she contributes an enormous portion of his/her life in this space. An organization is formed by the employees; it's growth depends on the employees.

They sweat and toil to give their best for helping it grow. You can't deny that. Like a family, all members in their own ways contribute towards achieving the bigger vision. But, when days aren't good, when things start falling, the same employees are laid off, terminated? Why? Who will take the responsibility? Is termination the solution? Do you think it is an emotionally responsible decision to terminate employees or even laying them off? Do you really know what do they go through? Have you been in their shoes? Imagine your job is suddenly taken away from you.
Your world crushes down. Even if you give them severance package, that won't suffice the contribution that they made while they were a part of your company's growth. The answer that I get is, "This is how the corporate world functions. We are here to do business and not social service". Really? Then why talk of employee progression, engagement, CSR activity, training & development, employee wellness programs, retreats, emotional development etc.? Why the band aid, why the reactive reaction and why not be more sensible & proactive to where the slag is? Who will take responsibility and ensure that not any employee have to go through such dilemma?
We only see the numbers, profits. That's all! Why not see the employees as human beings, that they also have a life beyond being a professional. That they are someone's child, someone's spouse, a parent and not meant just to serve you & your intentions. They are the resource through which you get your mission accomplished. They are the means through which your hopes are being fulfilled. With no jobs around, with the market being gloom, unemployment all around, what will these laid off employees do? Where will they go? Whom will they reach out to? Will a wellness program serve them? Will coaching help them then? Will money for few months help? NO. It won't.
Why not treat them like human beings and enable them to grow while things are good? Why not prepare for unseen situations beforehand? Why not set their growth path and help them walk it? Why focus only on numbers and not on coaching them while they are growing? If you cannot lead, why not learn how to lead? If you cannot inspire, why not learn to do so? If you cannot hire the right fitment, why not learn to do so? Why crush people's aspirations in the name of ignorance, economic slowdown, profitability etc.? The support that is given during the time an employee is going through a difficult time is what true care & concern is.  I don't know what could be the best answer to : What's the alternative to layoffs or termination? But, all I know is if we all sit in inquiry of this question, we will definitely arrive at a much better solution. We will be able to create better ways and not just go with the most easy way : i.e. termination.
If we can find ways to create wealth, generate business, we surely can find ways to this too. But, the question is, are we & the decision makers ready to take the challenging route to finding solutions that not only benefit them but the employees too? A severance package is not an answer to this. What if all the employees stand together and give away their bonus to help retain the laid off employees? What if all employees not get increment but give away that to help these employees under scrutiny?
What if a portion of the CSR is utilized to retain them? What if you do away with luxury to help them? This sounds funny or may be ridiculous for some, but trust me you cannot do this with a fear based & self-centered mindset. You need to have depth, maturity & compassion to give from your share to fill another. It's just a suggestion, looking into the bigger picture. The number of cases of depression, anxiety, trauma is on the rise. What if we do something differently? Something graceful, something for others and not just for us. Why not take responsibility for our actions now, at this moment?
I read somewhere : Only when you are truly invested in the happiness of the other person, you are actually giving them a gift. Otherwise it is not a gift but your hidden agenda & intention underlying it. So, before you launch a wellness program, an employee scheme, do ask what's the hidden agenda there, employee development truly or something else?

(“Layoff” word in the article has not been used in strict legal terms. It refers to termination. - Ed.)