Radio Shack was just bested, or rather, “worsted” by Bird
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We thought Radio Shack was bad: firing 400 people by email. No, it’s been outdone by another company. Bird recently fired its employees by webinar. Employees were told to login to hear a company update. Instead, all they heard was static and what they thought was a pre-recorded message, ending with their termination. Since then, Bird has not been alone in callously letting employees go. One reporter noted on Twitter that while she was actually live-reporting she was notified that she was being let go.

These and other companies have obviously not read our MIT Sloan Management Review article outlining best practices in downsizing, based on a decade of peer-reviewed research, and updated 11 years later in another Sloan article. We wrote these after spending time helping other companies find ways to restructure in a humane fashion. We have found in our research and consulting that trying to improve through layoffs is a loser’s bet. Instead, companies that need to downsizing should do so comprehensively and compassionately. They need to rethink and redo how work is done so that productivity and costs actually improve. Simply getting rid of people rarely improves the bottom line in the long run.

Our articles show how companies can achieve lasting improvements by downsizing properly. It involves taking time to think through where the inefficiencies and redundancies truly exist; considering alternative to layoffs; giving as much notice as possible when layoffs are necessary (60 days is the federal law for many companies); and offer job search assistance to those affected. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a thoughtful approach, especially in an unprecedented time like this.

“Congratulations” to Bird to being added to our list of worst ways to downsize.