Having friends and contacts in the industry (both recruiting and automotive) I've been involved in numerous conversations about layoffs recently. One in particular stuck out to me, though. A fellow corporate recruiter at another local OEM was groaning to me about how one of their contract agencies handled a recent round of staff reductions. I'll withhold the name of both companies since I'm not looking to drag any names through the mud, but it is worth discussing what happened.

This particular company uses several staffing agencies and had to make cuts to contract labor. As such, each agency lost people, with some losing more than others due to their numbers at said customer. Each of them handled the cuts in their own manner, but one left a pretty bad impression on the company, the employees losing their jobs, and the remaining staff in the building. This particular staffing company sent in a team of representatives armed with quick-assemble banker's boxes and location codes for each employee whose assignment was ending. They then proceeded to walk over to each employee's desk, assemble the box, and request that they pack any personal belongings they wished to keep as their assignment was over and would be escorted off the premises once the packing was complete.

It was completely and totally inhumane, cold, impersonal, and a downright tragedy.

I place some of the responsibility on the OEM for not making any specific requests about how the contract agency should handle the task, but this is more the fault of the agency. I realize there were likely a lot of people to meet with that day, and perhaps this was determined to be the most time-efficient way to handle the situation. Regardless of the convenience for the agency, I am floored that anybody thought this was an acceptable way to handle the situation. Somebody had to anticipate this being an emotional issue for some people and it would have gone a long way to offer some privacy when delivering the news instead of the very public version opted for.

Before coming to the corporate side I was at an agency and witnessed more terminations than I cared to at the start of the automotive decline, but they were done with respect for the dignity of those affected. I'm curious to know what others on both the agency and corporate side alike think of this method, and how you handle the delicate situation that is a layoff.

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