As the economic condition continues in its turbulent rant and rave cycle, the consistent flow of layoffs seem to effect and detract from every sector without relief. In this, I try to look for the benefits that are offered to those employees in their transition. How do employees view their employers and how did the layoff go in terms of process and respect.
Well, to no ones surprise, least of all mine - they do not do a good job. A recent poll suggested the following figures which are a testament of poor process and even poorer strategic planning.
* 88% of the people polled said that they would rate the process with their layoff poor or very poor
* 72% of the people polled rated the severance packages poor or very poor
* 94% of the people polled rated the outplacement services poor or very poor
Now the review went on to speak about several other factors around remaining employees morale and other factors but these three I think list a hard line truth of the short sighted view that many employers are taking in today’s market. One of immediate cost cutting with no regard for future business and employee need.
One thing is for sure, and most people are not speaking about it - the employee pipeline in the US is getting smaller not larger and companies need to position and act accordingly. Public companies are thinking of this weeks numbers vs. strategic planning and work force development and talent management. Instead of laying people off since the numbers are not there, look at the projected years business and the following year, where the market is headed and better yet what your multi-billion dollar company will look like 5 yrs from now. Executives need to head the word of the people and know that with constant layoffs come a smaller and smaller labor force to hire from when things start getting better.
Now no one is saying that layoffs never need to happen and if they do manage them well. What we are seeing above is that the process is handled badly. I personally only want to discuss the first bullet point of the above listed three. The other two are very subjective since the amount of money paid in severance and outplacement will never meet the expectations of the laid off workforce no matter what is done. But the first one is the process and I hear consistently of the horror stories of some of the poorest run programs anywhere. A few things I notice that are consistent through the layoffs and make for a poor process are as follows:
1.Poor communication or a total lack of in most cases
3.Poor management left in place
Well the major themes above are not only common but executed with no accountability nor regard for the longer term impact. I would be interested in knowing how layoffs would be executed if the people managing the process would keep their role or lose their job based upon the exit survey of the group being ousted. I know one thing for sure, people would be more like people and a great deal nicer dealing with the issues of the work force.
Poor communication is the leading cause for many issues. However it appears that there is a larger issue here that no one is pointing to. The reason for the lack of communication comes from the executive leadership wanting to hold things close to the vest, not lose productivity during the transition, and maintain control during the process. Hmmmmm….sorry folks does not work that way.
Consistency. There appears in most cases to be little reason for certian people being laid off and others kept. People with similiar roles are left not knowing why their co worker was dismissed and the desk next to them empty. In conjuction with no communication, they are paralyzed with the uncertain future of their role and when they might fall under the axe.
Poor management left in place. All the time!! It happens everywhere I turn that the management left in most cases is the least expensive to the payroll and therefore the most in experienced or the poorest. Not the people you need during one of the more crucial times of your company’s history. Again, cost is the ruling factor here not thinking of the loss of talent, knowledge and increased inefficiency that will permeate through the environment for the coming years reducing your competitive advantage.
Where does this leave us? Who knows? Honestly the people that are in the trenches, see the people for who they are, and understand the masses either are let go or forced under fear to conform to the strategies of the people that do not know any better or choose short sighted cost cutting as the only solution. Whether you are one or the other, or even part of the laid off work force - feel empowered or become empowered. Things will change, the employee will once again rise to the occasion and things will get better. It never happens as fast we like, but it will happen as history teaches. My hope is that all of the good people are not burned by then and don’t feel like working for the corporate empires that have brought such low morale standard upon how we treat people.
Written by Jason Monastra