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The Human Price of “Reductions in Force”

The Human Price of “Reductions in Force”

The Human Price of “Reductions in Force”

1. The late dictator of the Soviet Union is attributed with the following statement, and I quote,” A death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” The correct attribution to Commissar Stalin is, “ If only one many dies of hunger, that is a tragedy; if millions die, that is a statistic.”

2. My family worked in the auto industry. My grandfather, Adam Eder, participated in the longest strike by autoworkers against Ford Motor Company in the 1940s. Upon the end of the strike, my Grandfather’s entire check for lost wages, $1750, was signed over to the neighborhood grocery store owner, who had given my Grandpa’s family (my Dad, Stan, was fifth of six kids) for their groceries. Layoffs were and are part of the auto business. I saw the human tragedy in these layoffs. My Dad told me about the difficulty when his father was on strike and had to work under an assumed name at Anheiser-Busch Brewery in Saint Louis. His stories resonate with me all of these years later.

3. Nike announced an RDIF of 2 percent last quarter. Recently, 740 Nike employees, many of them with over 20 years of experience, were let go. On one LinkedIn thread, a former NIKE employee was told of their demise over a Zoom call. The sad thing, in my mind,  is that NIKE has let many of the most experienced staff members go, saving salaries. Still, NIKE is also losing the intangibles of these veterans’ experiences.

4. The human cost? Employees who moved families across the country changed schools, and married spouses damaged careers for the good of another family member. The financial issues that this causes with families and the anxiety of where the next mortgage payment comes from? RDIF is now a legitimate tool for many management teams across American businesses.

5. John Donahue is the CEO of NIKE. He has come from a nonfootwear background, and that can be good. However, NIKE has seen this several times, and the board seems to forget that management, which does not know running or footwear in general and NIKE in particular, just does not get it. Mr. Donahue was noted as saying that he did not understand why NIKE employees tell him, upon meeting, how long they have been at NIKE. Leadership is essential at NIKE. Mr. Donahue does not seem to get that whole NIKE DNA thing. Perhaps, which is a big assumption, he does not seem to care.

6. Nike can’t make disruptive product because people work at home? Mr. Donahue actually was quoted as…

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