Friday, May 11, 2018

The Layoffs Will Be Projected

A grim tidbit from the New York Times about the work environment at Nike (amidst an article about sexual harassment by Julie Creswell, Kevin Draper and Rachel Abrams):
...The callousness that some women experienced extended at times to the work force at large, employees said. By the summer of 2016, for instance, Nike had decided to stop making golf balls, golf clubs and other equipment. Members of the division were summoned to a meeting inside the Clubhouse, the nickname for one of Nike’s buildings. 
There, horrified employees watched their names appear on a large screen, directing them to different rooms, where some would be laid off, according to one person who attended the meeting and two people who were told of it. The person said it left employees with the impression they were being let go via PowerPoint presentation....
(Emphasis mine) I suppose I understand the need for some level of efficiency in the case of layoffs of multiple people, and the logistical difficulty in separating large groups of people in a corporate headquarters. But this just seems rather cruel - surely envelopes (all the same size, all the same color) or some other paper-based mechanism would be less horrifying? 


  1. I don't know that there's a good way to fire ppl (when did the term 'layoff' with no intent to rehire take the place of 'fire'? Seems an 80s thing and quite the offensive euphemism). I was at a company that did envelopes that fired half the ppl after they went back to their desks. I didn't get canned, but everyone left knew that the company held us in low regard. It likely didn't help that this happened on April 1....Apocryphal, perhaps, but I heard back in early 00s a crappy SD btech (Ontogene?) that laid off everyone by shutting off access to their keycards without telling them.

  2. BTT, I think the fired/laid off distinction is that #2 is clearly a no-cause/no-fault thing. If someone was fired, there's a question of what they did. If they were laid off... [insert graphic of Pacino as Michael saying "it's strictly business"].

  3. The term "layoff" originally did mean temporary layoffs in cyclical industries, and got co-opted to mean "fired due to business conditions and not performance/conduct" as the above commenter noted.

    I think most of the horror stories about people discovering they've been laid off when their keycard doesn't get them back into the building or they can't log into their computer are unintentional snafus.
    A termination meeting is secretly planned for a certain time and the person just happens to be at a doctor's appointment or taking their lunch break late, but the arrangements with IT to cut their access at exactly 2:00 PM have already been made.