Microsoft announces plan to cut 18,000 jobs

Julia FullickJulia Fullick

Julia Fullick, assistant professor of management in the School of Business, is available to discuss Microsoft Corp.'s plans to eliminate up to 18,000 jobs over the next year as it tries to simplify operations and integrate the Nokia Devices and Services business with its overall strategy.

"Downsizing has become the norm in industry, particularly after a merger or an acquisition as a means to streamline operations," Fullick said. "It is also not the only option. Other companies have gotten creative by utilizing job sharing, reduced work weeks, and having senior employees take pay cuts or pay freeze (ex. Cummins, FedEx, HP). Often decisions are made on seniority, which doesn't guarantee that the company will retain its most-qualified or productive employees. It is critical in this case that Microsoft examine employee skills and effectively manage the downsizing process to avoid negative outcomes. While Microsoft may believe it is streamlining the process to 'simplify the process,' downsizing can have negative repercussions on employee well-being (not just those who lose their jobs, but also those who stay), and even entire communities if downsizing is localized.  

"The most effective way to manage the downsizing process, based on research and past practice, starts with treating employees with respect," Fullick said. "Decisions should be made carefully and strategically and notice of termination should be done in person. Microsoft needs to communicate openly and honestly, letting employees know as soon as possible if they will be let go. Employees who stay need to be informed of the process, new expectations and goals for the company, and clearly explain the impact of the downsizing. They also must follow laws that regulate severance and benefits. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of open communication and active engagement throughout the entire process. Microsoft employees deserve to know how the process will occur, when it will occur, and how and why decisions are made. They should be allowed to ask questions and be supported by all levels of the organization. Try to maintain empathy for the sake of the long-term relationship. Employee layoffs should be done with respect and fairness. Research has shown that employees who believed that they had been treated respectfully and fairly during the process were less likely to open wrongful termination suits against their employers."

To speak to Fullick, please call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449 (cell) or 203-582-5359 (office).

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