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The Company that Did it Right
In January of 2001, I was laid-off from full time employment by ISē Inc during a slow period (known as the dot-com dot-bomb) in which they didn't have need for the work that I was doing.

This could have been a major disaster in my life, but the company did some wonderful things for me that cost them nothing (and incurred no liability for them) and made all the difference to me.

I am providing this information here for other employers who might be in a similar position and would prefer not to have to lay-off employees, but if they must, want to do it in the way that will hurt employees least.
How to Do It Right
  • They told me it wasn't my fault, that if they had a choice they would be keeping me.
    This will always make an employee wonder:  why are they keeping Ralph and letting me go?  But the other things they did made me realize it was just a matter of numbers and immediate business decisions and not because they valued me less.
  • They didn't rush me to pack up and leave.  Of course, I did leave in a reasonable amount of time, but I didn't feel as if they were standing over me waiting for me to get out.
  • They told me that if the economic situation changed that they would be happy to rehire me, and they backed it up by making sure that the termination agreement had no clause preventing me from reapplying to them.
  • They supplied me with a beautiful letter of recommendation, which helped me land my next job.
  • During the period that I was unemployed, they encouraged me to keep in contact with them.  Okay, I know that this is highly unusual these days, but wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't?  Too many times employers and supervisors act like they never again want to hear the names of people who no longer work for them, even if that employee was laid off.
Why Do it Right?
Simple:  company morale.  The other employees see what is happening to the person who is being laid off and know they could be next.  There are two ways a company can handle this:
  1. Encourage the remaining employees to believe that the employee who was laid off did not meet company standards.  This will motivate some employees to work harder or smile more (whichever it is the company wants) by fear; but those who worked closely with the employee who was laid off may not be fooled.  OR
  2. Allow the remaining employees to see that the company is doing the best it can for the employee who was laid off.  This shows the remaining employees that the company they work for is a company that knows that loyalty is a 2 way street. 
Why is the second choice better?  Because ex-employees like me will continue to carry that good will, into our neighborhoods, into our next job, and into any further contact we have with others who are or could be in contact (future employees, clients, colleagues, customers) with our former employer.
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Created:  3/24/01
Updated:  11/16/09