Respect for Employees: Cases from RadioShack and Northwest Airlines

Lisa Haneberg wrote about RadioShack [RSE] laying off 400 workers and informing them of the decision via email. Lisa’s Management Craft blog article records her thoughts on this choice.

Human resources… People are not just resources like computer systems and Post It notes. Our employees, all of them, even the underperforming ones who ought to be let go, are our partners. They are our business family. Even when it is the right thing to do to let someone go, we need to remember that they are important partners. How we leave a relationship is just as important as how we enter into it.

‘101 Ways to Save Money’

Northwest Airlines terminal at Detroit Metropolitan AirportThis reminds me of another instance of careless mistakes at Northwest Airlines. The company, currently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is considering additional layoffs and pay cuts for employees.

A few weeks ago, a booklet distributed to likely-to-be-laid-off ground workers is reported to have advised them on saving money: “don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash” and “take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods” along with more sensible tips like “brown bag your lunch” and “refinance your mortgage.” See the full list of ‘101 Ways to Save Money’ here.

Irrespective of the organizational and financial state of the company, including tips such as the above in employee communication is careless, insensitive and insulting to the dignity of the workers, especially when they are candidates for potential layoffs. An appropriate supervisory review of this publication prior to release could have easily avoided the bad publicity and ill will that this incident generated.

Respect for Employees, Employee MoraleAs alluded to every year in Fortune magazine’s ranking of the ‘best companies to work for’ in America, employees’ attitudes towards their organizations have a profound effect on the performance of companies. Further, better performance leads to higher morale among the employees; this results in a virtuous cycle of company performance and employee morale. The primary means of achieving high employee morale is by co-creating a corporate culture that instills a sense of ownership through empowerment, trust and fair treatment, by instilling pride for personal and organizational achievements and by providing adequate opportunities for personal and career growth.