I was going to write something about the Supreme Court's decision Monday in Crawford, further expanding the ability of employees to win retaliation lawsuits, but that's going to have to wait. (For those who can't wait, a PDF of the decision is here.)
Instead, the biggest news on the workplace front was Monday's 70,000-plus employees' getting laid off by major US employers. Twenty thousand at Caterpillar. Another 26,000 at Pfizer. Eight thousand at Sprint, and 7,000 at Home Depot. CNN has an especially cheerful chart here breaking down the 207,000 workers laid off in 2009. (They also came up with the "Bloody Monday" reference, near as I can tell.)
We've already posted on the media's propensity to play up bad economic news (see "Fear sells"). And we still need to point out that the S&P 500 is up more than 12 percent in the ten weeks since November 20. (Granted, it had been up as high as 24 percent just a few weeks ago.) But these layoff numbers are too huge to ignore.
What can you say?
Over at KnowHR, Frank Roche's post "How in the Hell Do You Lose 71,400 Jobs in One Day?" sums it up well. And I particularly like his advice:
I wish I had some really great HR advice today. I’m a little shell shocked, but here’s what I’d say: For those of you who are still there ... kick ass. Do your best work. Stop going to meetings. Start doing things. Make money.
Now’s the time to do our best work.
I completely agree. I would add that HR professionals, managers, and executives need to get in the trenches and rally the troops (feel free to add any other militaristic metaphors you like). Fear is driving the economy, and fearful employees are not gruntled employees. Thus, fear diminishes profits.
Talk to your employees. Tell them that it's going to be all right, that we'll make it through this OK. Live together, die alone. (No, wait ... that's something else.)
Tell them to do one extra thing today that will help make the company more profitable. Make one extra call to get a sales appointment. Perform one extra quality check of a component. Think of one extra idea for innovation.
And then do it again tomorrow. And the next day.
Pretty soon, there'll be no more recession. And no more Bloody Mondays.