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Hi Professor Sutton,

Very good insight - I'd just offer that I think the insight may not be as practical as one might think. If you look at any case of a company that did multiple layoffs, yes, in retrospect, the multi-layoff process caused a lot of collateral damage to morale and retention. But obviously the company did not intend at the beginning to have multiple layoffs.

It's not like any manager intentionally decides, "I know I gotta lay off 100 people this quarter, but ya know, I'm gonna whack 10 people every week, just to screw with morale."

At the time of layoff #1, the managers clearly didn't anticipate needing layoffs #2-N. They set the size of the layoff #1 based on their forecast for the business at the time. It just turned out to be an aggressive forecast, which is what triggered the future layoffs.

This goes back to the discussion a few weeks back about the guy who wrote an article about the morality of layoffs. The decision to lay off or how much lay off is a pretty mathematical decision. And as time goes on, the mathematical dynamics might suggest continued cuts.

The real ethics of layoffs is in how you conduct them, how employees are transitioned, etc.


The worst aspect of lots of cuts (layoffs) is the reverse-Darwinism that takes place. The strongest people leave because that can, the weakest stay because they can not.

The result is an organization with a much higher ratio of weak to strong workers, making it much less able to compete.

Wally Bock

The key to your advice and Wendy's is "during tough times, a good boss gives people as much predictability as possible." It's important when times are good, necessary when times are tough.

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