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Yahoo Lays off 100 People

I was reading this article on the way Yahoo handled laying off over 100 workers and couldn't believe what they put the engineers through in the Amman office. I feel like we should no better than to treat people this way? Do we not owe our employee's respect and honesty? I get the need for discretion at times with sensitive information but to tell these people they have jobs if they move and then to rescind is just not cool. What is Mayer thinking?


Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

In case anyone wants to read the article. It was in LinkedIn. The title of the article is "A sad story shows how brutal corporate realignments can be "

I have been following Marissa Mayer since taking over as Yahoo's CEO to see how she operates and this to me was disappointing.

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

No, the company does not owe the employee anything, other than the money promised for work done. That is the agreement.

That is not the case for Yahoo!.

Yahoo! made a promise to a group of people, then, without a reason for breach of contract, other than, "We decided against it," they cancel the agreement.

If I have a client who agrees to work to be performed, and I invest a lot of time and money into it, then as we are about to start work, I will send them a bill. If that bill goes unpaid, I will take them to court.

Yahoo! asked for a commitment, and the other party agreed to it, it becomes a contract. What we see is a breach of contract.

But, since it is international, Yahoo! can do it with very little risk of being sued.

All that is moot. Yahoo! is dying. A trip to Virginia recently showed me what happens to dying companies when I saw a huge parking lot, empty, next to a now empty huge AOL building. It was as sad as sad gets.

20 years ago, Yahoo! went public. 20 years is infancy in company years. People should have ran away from that IPO as fast as they should have with Facebook's IPO.


Now, about the employees/employer obligation. This screw-over by Yahoo! should be spread more. The more potential employees see how poorly Yahoo! treats its employees, the further down the list of considered employers Yahoo! goes. As Yahoo! fails to attract top talent, the further down the quality level they go, and the less valuable they become as an investment. This downward spiral increases speed and spells the doom of the company.

Until a PR push changes their image. Then, they can do it again. But PR only works some times.

Companies that treat employees poorly are doomed to fail.

That sounds like a paradox...companies do not owe employees anything other than agreed recompense for work, and companies who treat employees poorly fail.

It's not a paradox at all. The company is not obligated for any reason to give an employee anything other than what was promised. At the same time, if it wants to succeed, a company needs to make the work place a place where people want to work. The key is that the company needs to decide what level of appeal is profitable and makes it more profitable in the future.

Edward Thill
Title: VP - Finance & Operations
Company: Performance Trust
(VP - Finance & Operations, Performance Trust) |

Said differently -- although a company owes nothing to its employees but the legal wage agreed, the company that operates at the minimum of its legal obligations to its employees will die a quick death when those employees have alternative employment options.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Just to stir the pot a bit......"The company is not obligated for any reason to give an employee anything other than what was promised."

If this is the frame of mind, should we also NOT expect anything from our employees other than the obligated bare minimum? Producing XX number of units, staying from 9-5 and doing the required work, etc. If the worker was hired to produce x amount of units, does the company have the right to make him produce x + amount the next period? Why do we expect them to have higher goals or go for more than what is expected of them?

Just because you are only obligated to do or provide something does NOT mean that that is the only thing you should do what is legally obligated.

Walmart (wage hike.....although they can do more) is a prime/recent example of this and companies are slowly waking up that its workers (and despite still the lingering stockholder primacy point of view) should also benefit and share with the fruits of the company's labor.

Companies are now waking up that reputational risks exists and it affects company value. How you treat your employees matters. It does NOT matter whether it did the minimum legally obligation or more.

Whether it is through GlassDoor, Yelp, or social media, there are now a lot of avenues that information will seep out and companies need to be cognizant of this risk. From a PR standpoint, the minimum legal obligation does NOT matter. It is how you treat your employees.

It is only a paradox if the company still has the "minimum legal obligation" as their "floor" (or one end of the bookend) as a frame of mind. What about "compassionate. respectable treatment of employees" as a minimum over and above the minimum legal obligations.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Let's start with the premise that a termination is never received well. It does not matter if it is “for cause” or to “realign.” It is never conducted the same way. There are too many factors – situation, location, previous commitment to employee, and finally the HR administrator. I have been involved in terminating more people than I would ever wish to admit. Only in one situation did an individual look at me and say, “This must be so hard for you.”

I would have expected more corroboration than, “Over the weekend, we heard a story from two sources…”

I am not saying it is not true. Just, there is no way for me to know or the author of the post.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |


Before you act as judge, jury and executioner, I would caution you to consider what you actually know to be fact and what you think you know. I'll expand on Regis' response a bit. I too have been on both sides of layoffs in my career.

Don't believe everything you read, particularly unverifiable, emotional news stories like this.

Having been involved several times in my life in dramatic situations that later hit the news I can attest to a wide gap between what really happened and what is reported as "news". I can't tell you how upset I've gotten when a reporter has selectively repeated my responses to their questions in such a way as to project a storyline that is contrary to what I had said when one considered the conversation in its entirety. Even when you think you know how to handle reporters and what to say and not to say so that no ill can come of the resultant story

Having said that, people losing their jobs through no fault of their own is never pleasant. One-hundred times over when it's 100 people being laid off.

But, I have to admit that some of the us vs them, corporate vs employee type of responses here remind me of larger issue that I see as part of American culture. At it's worst, it can result in an employee "going postal". At the other end of the spectrum, it can be the bully manager getting away with making rational people's lives miserable and unfairly driving them from a good job.

That is our defining ourselves by our occupation. We end up acting as though a high paying and emotionally satisfying job that fulfills our every need is a goal as well as a God given right that we should hang onto at any cost.

Don't see it that way? What's the first question you are usually asked after being introduced to someone new, even in a social situation?

"Where do you work?"

"What do you do for a living?"

"So, you're a programmer?"

Try answering that with, "I'm not employed right now" and see where that leads.

We are too content to define our whole being, our whole value, by our jobs whether that is who we work for, our position title or our vocation. People are so much more than what they do for a living.

This leads to situations such as, when someone is disciplined and eventually terminated, they take lethal action against those they perceived as having "done them wrong", blaming them for taking away their sense of self and justifying their vengence.

Or, an incompetent manager blames her underlings for her own failings or lack of self esteem and bullies them like servants or slaves in an effort to bolster her self esteem. And maintain control over her subordinates and a imbue a perception of harmony amongst the team out of fear of being discovered as an imposter or fraud by those above her and being demoted or let go. Meanwhile, those above her will turn a blind eye to the situation in denial so as not to risk their own sense of self based on the position they've attained.

Take it back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Or, just watch a herd or wild horses, pack of monkeys or flock of chickens working out their own pecking order amongst the group.

That's why I'm actually a fan of at will employment. On both sides of the table.

No one should expect that continuous employment is permanent or guaranteed or without risk or cancellation. Neither employee or employer. If an employer can no longer use your services or just doesn't like you, so be it. If you want to retire, quit or go elsewhere or, find yourself hating your job you leave. No hard feelings. That is the way it goes.

Entrepreneurs understand this better than most. We definitely could use more entrepreneurship and less employer's and employees. :-)


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