In a reported attempt to "accelerate [its] path to profitability," Fab, a popular design e-commerce site, laid off 85 of its employees earlier this month. And while stories of layoffs in the startup world are a dime a dozen, it's what Fab did after giving the pink slip to 37 percent of its staff that really has people talking.
Fab held a job fair for its former employees a week after the layoffs, Business Insider reports. The 40 companies on hand were selected based on availability of relevant positions, and included the likes of Google, Conde Nast, Gilt Groupe, Quirky and Warby Parker. A Fab spokeswoman told BI that 20 companies said they would reach out to people they met at the event for interviews.
The company's unique approach is one way to soften the blow of a layoff, and may hint at a new, kinder and gentler way of treating employees who are let go. (Fab's CEO and CTO are also not taking a salary in 2014, AllThingsD reported.) Earlier this year after having to lay off employees due to losing a major client, Goodby Silverstein & Partners co-founder Jeff Goodby sent an internal memo that offered this consolation: "We will do everything to find them new situations. And if history is any indication, we will find ourselves welcoming some of them back in the future." In 2012, a former Goodby employee created a website called "Grab Some Goodby," a site highlighting the work of recently laid-off friends from the agency. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," the site's tagline read. "When life gives you Goodby talent, hire it to make your lemonade better."
Unfortunately, there are more examples of companies and managers taking the low road when it comes to laying off employees. And the results are often just plain bad.
Employees at the Cleveland Plain Dealer paper were told in a company memo to wait by their phones from 8 to 10 a.m. on July 31 for a call as to whether or not they still had jobs as the company went through a second round of layoffs. It's hard to tell if that's better or worse than the email Carll Tucker, chairman of Daily News, a network of hyperlocal news sites, sent to staff after the company's CEO resigned. Gawker reported that after sending an email promising "good news" on Friday, employees found out on Monday they were being laid off—without severance pay.
But it may not get any worse than when a manager pulled a nurse out of surgery to tell her she was being let go, Fox News reported in 2009. Apparently the company, health-care provider Dean Health System, was told it needed to get rid of 90 employees "immediately."
These stories highlight some of the big mistakes companies make when laying off employees: treating employees with disrespect, blindsiding them with the news and not being transparent. Yet with companies like Fab displaying how to treat former employees like people and not bad assets to be pushed out as soon as possible, hopefully these layoff horror stories will become a thing of the past.
Read more articles on layoffs.