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Almost Like a Service Pack

By Steve Jones,

I can't take credit for the title, I found  blog titled "Microsoft Releases Severance Debacle Service Pack

" and the wording so cool, it inspired me.

No one likes layoffs, but they're a fact of the modern corporate world. Companies grow quickly to take advantage of opportunities when they exist, and hire people to do so. When growth slows, they may find they've hired too many. If things slow too much, like they have recently, then companies have to lay people off. It's never a good event, executives try to avoid the bad publicity, and there's no good way to handle things. I've been a part of a few layoffs, and they have always sucked.

Microsoft recently had it's first layoff, and IMHO, handled it badly.

Just like a number of Service Packs, it wasn't right and they ended up overpaying some people in severance. This was some type of administrative error, and I could understand it. On the surface it seems that Microsoft asking for repayment of the money isn't wrong. However they soon realized it was a PR nightmare to ask for the money back, and decided thatemployees could keep the few extra thousand dollars they received.

I'm not sure if right thing to do would be to pay the money back. After all, this isn't an agreement made between employees and management on how to let people go. We don't negotiate this when we get hired. Management decides what they feel is necessary to pay people when they're let go. There isn't anything "generous" about firing someone because you can't run the business as you did when you hired them. It's a fact of life, and having had to make that decision, I can tell you it stinks.

However there are plenty of times when you make a mistake in business and it's not worth trying to undo it. If a customer complains about their magazine, you send them another one. If I make a mistake and double pay an author here, usually I ask them to keep it. It's more hassle than it's worth to undo things, and I'd rather have the goodwill than the money.

This isn't a knock on Microsoft, as I think many companies would have handled it this way. But I'd hope that many more would stop for a minute and realize that they'll do more good than harm by just letting things go.

Steve Jones


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