The Atlantic ran a piece this morning on how a California-based company called HopeLab is trying to make layoffs and firings more enlivening:

Chris Murchison, the company’s vice president of staff development and culture, recently spoke about the counterintuitive philosophy behind this effort. “I think layoffs are a fascinating opportunity to think about how to enliven people,” he said.

Getting laid off or fired is never easy. Even so, it’s often harder than it has to be. A cold and tactless job dismissal can sting, and just watching a recently sacked employee leave is dispiriting. HopeLab, a company that builds educational apps and games aimed at improving people’s health, has gone to unusual lengths to make the process respectful and considerate, even celebratory. In one instance, the company organized a Thriller flash-mob to send off an employee known to be a big fan of Michael Jackson. In another, the company said farewell to a group of workers by throwing a party with balloons, beach balls, and tacos. As Murchison put it, it’s all part of HopeLab’s effort to put “the good in the goodbye.”

The article continues:

HopeLab began rethinking the traditional layoff process in 2009, after the company chose to let four workers go in the face of the economic downturn. “We wanted to do it in a way that was respectful and preserved people’s dignity,” Murchison said. 

The desire to respect the dignity of persons is an admirable one, but clearly there are economic advantages to the reputation which comes from HopeLab’s firing practices. Is the company taking a step in the right direction, or are its efforts too calculating to be laudable? Find the whole article here.