Tuesday, December 15, 2009

“Up In The Air:” Laying Off Employees is a Good Thing

In the Jason Reitman’s hit move “Up In The Air,” George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, who is a corporate downsizing expert who essentially lives on the road and is a hired gun who does the dirty job of laying people off.

While I have not yet seen the movie, I read the book by Walter Kirn and Clooney’s character in the book is often portrayed in a negative light for his efforts in putting a positive spin on laying people off. When firing someone, he presented it as an opportunity as opposed to something that was actually bad.

Of course, being laid off is a devastating blow for any employee. And, in the day-and-age, it has unfortunately become the cost of doing business. What is not often explored is the simple fact that laying people off can be a very good thing.

That is correct. Laying off staff is a good for business. As I mentioned in my previous post, it does no one any good to keep employees around if the company is then at risk months later. Corporate America is not always a cold place, and most companies tend to do the minimum amount of layoffs of employees -- to keep morale up and do the “right thing.”

The truth is that most companies put themselves at risk by only laying off the minimal amount of people. And, once the storm has passed, and business has stabilized, then companies can bring more talent back. So, is it worth putting an entire company at risk by having a bloated employee base?

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