RE: Layoff logistics and etiquette

Subject: RE: Layoff logistics and etiquette
From: Gwyneth Runnings <gwyneth -at- look -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 09:18:00 -0700

This a morbidly fascinating string, so I will share my layoff experiences.

The company I worked for prided itself on it's openness with it's employees, but our company president must have been one of those guys who dive into ice cold water instead of wading in bit by bit.

The first round we had, we had no warning. The cuts were synchronized in all of the departments so that the people who were leaving were gone very quickly, and by 10:00 we were in an all-company meeting learning that we wouldn't be seeing these co-workers again. It was tough on those of us who were left for a couple of reasons. First, because in a small team you work very closely with your co-workers, and losing them abruptly left the rest of us with a sense of unfinished business. I felt as if I hadn't told my co-workers how much I appreciated their work or valued their contribution to our team. And second, because regardless of what anyone said, I still was left feeling like I wasn't safe or secure in my job, an illusion in the best of times, to be sure, but one that we cherish as employees.

The second round of cuts was both more painful and more satisfying. Our department manager had us all together as a team. He had already told the members that were leaving of the layoff. We were able to have lunch with the leaving members. We felt as though the company was treating our laid-off teammates in a humane manner, allowing them to come back the next day and pack up their things and retrieve portfolio material from their computers, and the company sold the employees their computers as a part of their layoff package.

The third round I found out what it was like to be one of the laid-off. And frankly, I was relieved. I had gone to the gym at lunch and was gone a little over an hour and a half. When I came back, it was mostly over. My department head called me in to tell me that both of us were leaving. And as someone else remarked it is a lot easier to take that kind of news from someone who is in the same boat as oneself.

My conclusion after these experiences is that the most important thing to communicate to the employees who are left is that the one who were let go were treated fairly. If you are left with a feeling that your co-workers were treated callously it reflects on your commitment to the job that you are left with, and you may start looking for other work. Which is not in the companies interest. But then, companies often are blind to their own self-interest, unbelievable as that may be.

- gwyneth
*looking for contract work this time*

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