While some people left comments on this, here are some thoughts by others who responded to me on email:
From a Management Consultant:
Is there a business logic to this downsizing save that of rising ATF and economic slowdown? Or is it a case of poor workforce planning? Without naming any suspects in this matter - is it possible to look at issues like workforce size risk assessment (my coinage - I occasionally suffer from consultantspeakitis) - to be done regularly by HR that kowtows to expansive (read: speculative) business strategies. I am sure businesses understand the logic of cycles - my question is does HR understand this as well?
Well, for this person I only can't really claim to have the answers. The sectors that would do well are ones without direct or indirect impact of fuel prices, and credit crunch. Which is not really a whole lot of industries. The economy is a system. One trigger on one level can lead to a totally different in other areas.
For a HR manager there is only one way to deal with employees. Be open, transparent and honest. Do not gossip and share half-information with them. If you are in an industry which is experiencing lay-off in competitors' - recognize that your employees would be impacted. They might have friends there or they might just be worried.
Encourage your business leaders to talk about the reality and steps your organization is planning to take to fight the slowdown. Non-communication by HR and leadership is the biggest mistake you can make.
If your firm is also going to lay off people, start communicating early. Engage an outplacement firm and a counselor's services. Treat people fairly and give them enough notice. Don't try and be cold. It might seem an easy decision to fire people by couriering relieving letters or by sending text messages (!!) but in the long term will hurt the organization's credibility a lot more.
Engaging with employees' emotional upheaval may seem messy and tiring - but as you share in their good times so should you share their pain.
I wonder why people think management is easy.
Update: Jet Airways reinstates 1900 employees . In my view this makes the company look stupid, and the earlier decision a knee jerk one. On another note would this prompt the management not to take any other important decision and ask the Chairman to take it?
Goyal said the decision had not been prompted by political pressure but by his own conscience.
"I couldn't take the sight of all these young boys and girls who had been laid off. I took this decision because of my own conscience. Not in response to any political pressure. I made this decision just now when I was on my way to this place with my wife," said Naresh Goyal, Chairman, Jet Airways.
The company had said it was forced to trim staff to cut its losses but Goyal claimed that he had not been consulted before the Jet senior management ordered the retrenchment.
"I was not there when this decision was taken. I came to know about it later," said Naresh Goyal, Chairman, Jet Airways.