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Dear Flipkart: Firing People is Fine, Blaming Them is Not

Source | LinkedIn : By Nikunj Verma

2016 is proving to be an year of shake ups. Acquisitions, layoffs, shutdowns, we have seen enough already.

But Friday’s news about Flipkart firing about 1000 employees was different. It evoked strong emotions from everyone, quickly stirring up the same old debate – should the companies be allowed to hire and fire at will?

Yes, Flipkart has the right to fire or lay off its employees

Running a business is highly unpredictable. Markets shift, consumers change their behavior, things rarely go as planned. Flexibility to scale the workforce up or down in such cases is how business survive in long run.

All of us who work in the modern economy need to understand this risk. Compared to the previous generation, we enjoy higher wages, work flexible hours, change jobs every 2-3 years, seek fun at work. But all of that comes at a cost – our jobs are not safe any longer.

Let’s get it straight. We live in a modern economy where things change at light speed, no job is permanent, no company is immortal. Not convinced? Think about Nokia or Lehman brothers.

But Flipkart could have handled this more sensitively

It may be all business, but Flipkart could still have managed the process more sensitively. Calling this exercise a “cleanup” and calling the employees out as underperformers was not in a good taste.

By mass firing 1000 employees and publicly branding them as underperformers, Flipkart has not only hurt their pride but also made it difficult to find their next job.

Dear Flipkart, sure we get it. You wanted to emphasize that this firing is not due to weakness of your business outlook. You seemed hell bent to prove that these were not layoffs – and had nothing to do with your devaluation by Morgan Stanley, aggressive competition by Amazon, tightening funding situation and financing your recent Jabong acquisition.

But while protecting your image, was there no way to avoid putting the blame squarely on these 1000 employees? If they were not fitting their job roles, won’t it have been better to let them go gradually, instead of doing a well publicized round of mass firing?

Anybody who understands the “H” in the word “HR” knows that people don’t “under perform” – they may or may not fit a specific role at your company. Given the right job, right environment & right motivations, these 1000 Flipkart employees may as well become high achievers.

Read On…

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