Why Layoffs Come From Boards With Old Thinking

Can business care about it's staff?

Near me in Teddington, in west London is the Lensbury Club. The Lensbury Club was first formed in 1920 as the sports and social club for employees of the Dutch petroleum giant Shell.

In the old days, that was how many businesses were run. They were run to achieve business objectives, but they were also run for the people in the company.

Another example is Bournville on the southwest side of Birmingham, England, founded by the Cadbury family for employees at its Cadbury's factory, and designed to be a "garden" (or "model") village. 

The idea being was that if you look after employees, people will want to come and work for you. Also happy contented workers, worked harder. They also stayed with the company.

Not a revolutionary notion, but maybe it is in today's world of massive layoffs. 

After All what message does that give to people?  It says a company does not care and if as an employee I know my employer does not care, what am I going to do? Leave. 

Will business care about its staff in the future?

In their book "beyond good - how technology is leading a purpose driven business revolution", Theodoora Lau and Bradley Leimer, talk about that employees, expect a different social contract with their employer. We expect our employer to "do good" and to use its power, influence and (some) profit for the benefit of the employees.

It therefore does not surprise me when I see articles like this

Gen Zers say they're rejecting job offers over a company's climate credentials, survey finds via @businessinsider 

Is it the way we account for staff?

In this article in Fortune magazine

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School, is the author of the new piece, “How financial accounting screws up HR,” published in Harvard Business Review. Cappelli argues that employers have gotten bad at managing employees and U.S. financial reporting standards are in part to blame.

“Employees are not considered assets—even though the tenure of a valuable employee is often far longer than the life of any piece of capital equipment,” he writes.

This is what leaders still don't get

Most business leaders grew up in a world where there was no internet, no social media, no mobile phones and none of the impacts that Covid-19 gave us. They therefore don't have the "modern mindset". They grew up in a world of hierarchies, where the boss told you want to do and you did it.

And you could tell the outside world one thing and do another.

The problem is the world does not work like that anymore. We have full transparency through social media. 

A business can go online and say, we are a business that believes in diversity, but we can go onto Linkedin and look up your leadership and see if that is not true. And if it isn't true we can call it out. And do!

Boards are laying staff off, but are still making stellar profits.

What needs to happen?

  • Boards need to understand that there has been a generational shift, if they want the best talent and they want that talent to stay, it's not about grade structures, it's about being a value and purpose based business. In a way that echoes some of the businesses in the past, who saw their employees not as a expendable resource, but as an intrical part of the future of the business.

Many businesses today will have a value statement that does not align with the actions.

So as a business, 

Does your position on social media reflect your culture?  

Does your position on social media reflect your values?  

Are you talking about your values and your culture in an authentic way on social media?  

Have you empowered your employees to talk in an authentic way on social media?

Related: Why the Culture of Your Company Is Totally Transparent for Us To See on Social Media