You might think that after what the country has gone through over the past two years -- 8.4 million people lost their jobs -- I'm needlessly restating the obvious about how devastating layoffs are for those on the receiving end.
But gee whiz, Harley-Davidson's CEO Keith Wandell made me do it.
His company's shares are recovering nicely, up 330% from the worst of 2009. (Yes, yes, I know, share prices were much higher 4 years ago.)
Net income in the second quarter was up 260% over this time last year. (Yes, yes, I know, 2009 was lousy.)
So what's on Mr. Wandell's mind? (And on those of so many CEOs reporting 2nd-quarter profits in recent days?)
Laying off employees ... oh, sorry ... "restructuring."
According to the New York Times, the motorcycle manufacturer plans to layoff "1,400 to 1,600 more jobs" in the coming months, "on top of 2,000 jobs cut last year."
Speaking to AP, Wandell said the company's goal is "the ability to hire and lay off workers more quickly," complaining that "it can take as long as three months to let go of unneeded workers."
Mr. Wandell's job sounds very stressful.
Well, on the chance you might meet Mr. Wandell in the coming days, maybe gassing up his motorcycle somewhere, here are some suggestions for starting up a conversation: a quick summary of what happens to people who are laid off and to their families. (Yes, yes, there are always exceptions, but let me know if any of this doesn't seem pretty reasonable.)
- People who lose their jobs can suffer "large and persistent earnings losses that last over twenty years." In other words, if you lose your job in mid-career, you will likely never earn as much as you used to. Never!
You might, understandably, be tempted to ask Harley-Davidson's CEO why he's so convinced that layoffs are his only option as a manager, but remember -- Mr. Wandell told AP last week that "when you look at the total picture, we feel very good where we're at."
Good for you.