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Submitted by 12string on


What should I be doing to keep morale from dropping out?

We laid off an employee yesterday who was with the company close to 20 years.  Let's call his name Jimmy.  Jimmy was hired for technical abilities, and was great at numbers and logistics, etc... 

Most everyone at the supervisory level and below loved this guy, mostly because he had 'all the answers'.  The problem with Jimmy, is that he really didn't do what his salary called for.  Jimmy used to be the store manager and was able to make decisions for everyone's salary, including his own.  He basically priced himself out of a job.  Most employees here are acting as if he died....and I was the one that killed him.

What they didn't see was how he was taking advantage of systems set in place (vacation times, driving for personal reasons and claiming company miles, working 32 hrs per week while on salary).  He had told the owner that he was getting burned out about 3 years ago.  I believe that he was just past burnt out, starting to feel a sense that he deserved what he was taking from the company in terms of time, miles, 'extra' vacation, et al.

I've been here for a year and a half.  I can see that people are looking at me as though, if someone had to be leaving, it shouldn't be Jimmy.  I'm totally OK with that; it's part of the job.  I'm not going to try to explain to anyone, they wouldn't hear it anyway. 

I understand people need to mourn, but I want to make sure that people are able to get through this.  My message to everyone here now is, "That was a difficult decision we had to make, let's just make sure we all work toward results so that doesn't have to happen again."

Is that message even worth saying?  any help, insights, and advice would be greatly appreciated.


jhack's picture

Morale is a state of mind - you can't control that.  What you want is for everyone to get back to being productive.  

Morale isn't a behavior.  What are they doing that concerns you? (chatting by the water cooler when they should be stocking shelves?)  Focus on the behaviors.  Do your one on ones.  Give feedback.   

The implied threat in your quote above (" that doesn't have to happen again.") is unnecessary.  They got the message, and that message may have more to do with the "morale" than Joe's departure.   

Have you listened to the "Compassionate Layoffs" cast?  (  There is a section on communication to those still employed.   

John Hack

12string's picture
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I did hear that about 6 months ago-ish.  I'll take another look at it. 

Thanks for your thoughts on that message as well.  I hadn't thought it could be received as a threat.