If It’s Tuesday, Best Buy Must Be Laying Workers Off

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Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Best Buy sign in Peoria, Ill., in 2012.

What’s the best day of the week for laying off employees? A certain well-known electronics retailer has apparently settled on Tuesday.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last week that Best Buy, the struggling electronics retail giant, has regularly been laying off small groups of employees at its headquarters in Richfield, Minn. The latest rounds of low-key layoffs have come a few months after Best Buy shed 400 corporate and support workers. The new layoffs are unique not only because they’ve trickled out slowly as opposed to taking place with one big chop, but also because they’ve been taking place on one particular day of the week: Tuesday.

Employees have even given a name to the event: Termination Tuesdays.

A Best Buy representative says the layoffs have not been taking place every single week, and insists that shrinking its workforce — around 5,000 in recent years at the corporate campus, down from 9,000 at its high — is necessary for the retailer to best compete in today’s marketplace. Spokeswoman Amy von Walter tells TIME that the layoffs are an unfortunate part of the company’s ongoing transformation plan, which was dubbed Renew Blue and announced earlier this year. “When we committed to reducing costs as part of our Renew Blue transformation efforts, we said our first priority was to identify savings in nonsalary expenses, but we have also had to make some difficult decisions involving head count, which ultimately allow us to accelerate our work to transform our business,” von Walter says.

(MORE: Best Buy’s Unlikely Return From the Dead)

Nonetheless, anonymous sources within the company indicated that morale has reached new lows, what with colleagues disappearing left and right, and that the atmosphere is especially tense on Tuesdays. “Whenever someone leaves their desk, we think that person just got laid off, when he or she might just be going to the bathroom,” one Best Buy employee told the Star Tribune.

The Tuesday terminations have generally been hitting a handful of employees at a time, perhaps a dozen or two, tops. Why not simply pull off the Band-Aid quickly with one mass layoff? That approach can be brutal, but at least it gives those remaining behind the impression that their jobs are (somewhat) safe.

As some of the retail experts at RetailWire commented in a discussion about Best Buy’s near weekly firings, it can be horrible to have “people looking over their shoulder and waiting for their turn” to get their walking papers. Instead, one insider suggested, “Terminations and downsizings need to happen quickly so that the remaining employees can recommit and move forward.” Another noted, “Employees who fear their job may go away are likely to spend more time looking for a new job, since it is better to look for a job while you still have a job.”

Best Buy’s von Walter explains that the company instead prefers to cut costs (i.e., employees) more strategically and has been carefully picking and choosing the workers and departments that’ll receive pink slips. (Best Buy says it has simultaneously been adding head count and making investments in other areas that’ll help the company grow.)

Some have speculated that Best Buy may be firing people in dribs and drabs because doing so allows the company to circumvent a federal law that orders large employers to give 30 days’ notice of impending mass layoffs. Piecemeal terminations may also help Best Buy minimize the bad p.r. and media coverage that often accompany large-scale layoffs. Best Buy said that all such speculation about how and why it is right-sizing its workforce is off base.

(MORE: Are We Witnessing the Death of the Big-Box Store?)

In any event, what’s up with Tuesday? Why has it been chosen as D-Day in Best Buy circles? Best Buy didn’t want to address the topic directly, but von Walter notes, “Best Buy provides a meaningful severance package that includes salary, health care benefits and outplacement services to help ensure employees have support during the transition.”

Human-resources experts have varying views about which day of the week is best (least painful) for firing people. Some say Friday works best because it’s least disturbing to the office; the individual leaves for the weekend with everyone else and simply never comes back. Others think that a Friday firing is unnecessarily cruel. “Fridays make the departure less dramatic but could leave the employee stewing over the weekend,” a Wall Street Journal story on the topic stated. Pivotal Integrated HR Solutions is decidedly anti-Friday firings. “Fridays are recommended as not ideal because the employee would be left facing a weekend of going over things in his/her mind without being able to seek assistance,” a company post explained.

Mondays seem cruel in a different way, leaving a fired employee wondering, “Why didn’t you just cut me loose on Friday? Why’d you make me come in at all this week?”

So what we’re left with is the midweek termination, which gives the freshly canned worker ample time left in the week to evaluate severance packages (if offered), to get legal and personal advice, and to also start the job hunt. Hopefully, the timing helps to avoid totally ruining the person’s weekend as well.

(MORE: Best Buy Swears Shoppers Don’t Have to Bother Showrooming Anymore)

Look at things that way, and it seems sorta nice of Best Buy to choose Tuesday as the day to give workers the boot.

14 comments
Arthur91
Arthur91

I found it very interesting that Best Buy has decided to do terminations on Tuesdays. I suppose I can see the reasons why. By not firing workers on a Friday, they don't have the weekend to "stew about it" and possibly plan revenge or other means of retaliation. Also, by firing them early in the week, the employee is still left time to look for a job with the remaining days. By not firing them on a Monday, the employee won't feel like "why did they even make me come in the first place if they were just going to fire me?" While terminating someone is never pleasant, choosing Tuesday to do it seems to be a solid choice for a number of reasons.

phuckbestbuy
phuckbestbuy

reward silver for 5 years.

as of this year, amazon exclusive customer and NO bestbuy shopping because of their staff, and return policy inconsistencies.

Will celebrate the day BB joins compusa, circuit city, borders, tower, and blockbuster.

PeterMainwald
PeterMainwald

Maybe if WorstBuy would look at their own mirror and see where the real problem is.  Their prices are horrible.  Not even close to what you can get on line.  They need to either close or stop acting and running scared and fight back.  Taking meager paychecks out of the hands of people who buy your goods is suicide.  I will say, their best buy mobile service is the best out there.  The Geek squad warranty has no competition.  But the prices on everything else?  Puh-lease.  An example?  An otter box cover for an ipad mini that they wanted 75.00 for is easily obtained on Amazon for just over 25.00


DennisScottMoore
DennisScottMoore

I remember working for a ( now out of business ) company back in the early 1980s.   On our first day back at work  ( following New Year's Day of 1986 ).....as the entire 'swing' shift reported shortly before work.......we were each met in the lunchroom, prevented from 'punching in' on the time-clock.....and told we were going to have a 'meeting' outside at the picnic tables.    As the day shift employees filed out past us, NONE of them would even look in our direction.     Some of us had been there for years, and these were our 'friends'.   About 15 of us were 'let go'.   I had JUST bought a new car, and another couple on our shift....were getting married the following weekend.    Some advance notice would have been nice.   Even worse, that they let us all go off & do our Christmas vacations.........putting money on our credit cards, or cashing in our 'vacation' days, with NO clue as to what was to come in the new year.     Fortunately, I ended up working again within 3 weeks.   I worked for the new company ( a MAJOR corporation ) for over 23 years.......until they closed our tiny ( 150 employees ) Calif. factory in 2009.   In that case, everyone received at least 6 months notice, and we had the option of transferring to other facilities.....or were offered severance packages.       At least we had a chance to prepare.

vstillwell
vstillwell

There's nothing dumber than corporate speak. Rightsizing means outsourcing in the real world. India just nabbed a few thousand jobs from Best Buy. 

YuSuk
YuSuk

Tuesday because they can't claim unemployment for that week.  Obvious.

charliehustle
charliehustle

Best Buy will soon be Bye Buy and will leave nothing behind except those massive boxy stores.  Hopefully they turn them into daycare centers or homeless shelters.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

Cut costs? How about Managment's super bonuses? Or maybe less for the sharks in the Hedge Funds? No never, not that.

rainman69
rainman69

They wouldn't have to get rid of so many people if they paid their upper management including the CEO a realistic wage.How many televisions do they have to sell to pay the million dollar salaries these guys get?

rettamichaels
rettamichaels

I hope they got rid of that one bitch named .... in Quincy, Illinois.... hateful, hateful, hateful! 

boodgieman
boodgieman

Last place I worked, if you were called in to HR on a Wednesday afternoon at 4:00, you knew you were getting canned.

LLL
LLL

WHO IS YOUR DADDY AND WHAT DOES HE DO