We are a number. We are a filled vacancy within XYZ department. We are a statistic. We are an expense. We are assigned these – and many more – labels during the course employment. And, when you think about it, all of the proceeding is true when it comes to our position in any business.
The question is: Would these apply to a company of 100 equally as it would to a company of 1,000?
Individual is a label that wasn’t included above and I chose not to include it for a specific reason.
Why? I wanted to show that a company that invests in the individual – even in the hard times – sees greater benefit over one that does not. Is it possible that a company who chose to ignore the individual fail to maximize the ROI of the money spent on salaries, benefits, etc.?
We all know that a for-profit business only will remain as long as revenue generated matches, and exceeds, expenses. And, as such, hard decisions have to be made during difficult times.
As an example, I share the story of two different fictional companies – one with 100 and the other 1,000 employees. The circumstance is equal but the response couldn’t be further from the same.
Company Ownership (CO) reviews year-end financials and concludes that the company will remain viable only by reducing staff by 25%. In the previous third and fourth quarters, measures were taken to reduce unnecessary expenses while focusing on a sales and marketing initiative. Unfortunately, this last-minute attempt didn’t produce. CO meets with middle and front-line management the night before the layoffs and welcomed blunt questions, comments, and concerns. CO, management, and HR coordinate the face-to-face meetings across the company. HR provided help with resumes and contacted local staffing firms on the behalf of exiting employees. All exiting employees were informed that they would be rehired – with tenure – should they wish to return in the future should a new position become available.
Company Ownership (CO) reviews year-end financials and concludes that the company will remain viable only by reducing staff by 25%. All employees receive notice via email from the CEO addressing the unfortunate events. The email, sent at 8:00am, is not sent to any employee whose job is being eliminated. Some of them are not scheduled to arrive until 8:30 – 9:00. A few found out about their termination via text from co-workers. Those exiting the company didn’t meet with management – they were unavailable – and were required to complete exit paperwork, gather their belongings, and leave. No explanation was given regarding the layoff to existing employees.
Example One is clearly the better of the two. Both companies eliminated staff by 25%. The difference in how this reduction was communicated and executed is vital to the story. One company acknowledges the human factor and treats the existing employees as more than a number. This isn’t the case in the other example. The remaining employees are left in the dark as much as those who exited with no consideration for either.
Which example is the company of 100 and which is the company of 1,000?
It could be a fair assumption that the company of 100 is the company in Example One and the 1,000 is Example Two. We assume that the company with fewer employees is the company with better communication skills.
If you thought Example One is the company with 100 employees, you are…wrong.
I truly believe that top management determines a company’s culture. Their actions create more than just company budgets, projects, initiatives, etc. They set the standard for so much more. It is a choice to encourage a work environment of open communication and collaboration – or to facilitate the opposite.
This is a reminder for me to make sure that my actions contribute to the style of the 1,000 and not the 100.