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Question in regards to ethics and the work environment

I understand the business world can be a ruthless and difficult environment. There are situations that occur, such as mergers or downsizing, that require a certain population of the workforce to be laid off. The ethical dilemma that arises is which workers to keep and which ones should be laid off or transferred.
Certainly the manager wants to keep the best employees, but is this an ethical way in choosing which employees to dismiss?

Can you please explain to me what the key problems and issues would be here?

This is our problem within our work environment:

We just had a merger between 2 companies. Our department is now in a sticky situation. The new senior management wants only the best people to stay. Others may be laid off (with severance depending on length of time at the company) and others may be moved to other departments. The ethical problem here is who do you keep? How do you say to someone she is the best and your not?

Solution Preview

Of course the ethics (fairness and morality) of whom to keep versus whom to let go is difficult and emotional. There's no formula or unerring approach that protects the best interests of everyone concerned. If continuing to be employed in the merged organization is a "good" and being let go is a blow, some people will suffer. It's almost inevitable when force levels and required skills are involved.
<br>In my judgment, the characteristics of an ethical, high-minded approach include these ...