Thursday, August 1, 2013

This is sort of an awful way to lay off people

Not that there's a good way, mind you. Cleveland Plain Dealer employees were told to stay home and wait for a phone call (emphasis mine):
From approximately 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 31st, employees in the Editorial Department will receive a phone call notifying them that they are either being separated from employment on that date, or that they are not being separated from employment. Employees who are notified that they are not being separated should report for work at their next regularly scheduled time. 
Employees who are notified that they are being separated will be provided a time to meet Thursday, August 1st with a Human Resources representative at the Tiedeman Production and Distribution Center. At that time, each impacted employee will receive a copy of his/her severance information and will also be given transitional details, including meeting with a representative Right Management, a company that specializes in transitional programs. 
We sincerely regret having to go through this process and we thank all who are impacted for their years of service and wish them all the best for their future.
I think what I hate the most about these memos is the euphemisms, "separated", "transitional details", "impacted." Do the people who make up these words think that we are fools?

12 comments:

  1. No, I don't think they think anyone are fools, but they don't want to admit the nature of what they are doing to themselves and use language to help hide it. Everyone knows that the firing is damaging and that the fired people are disposable and unlikely to do well after - they just don't care, and wish their language to hide that from everyone.

    Employers don't care about the people they're firing - they have to fire people (sometimes for good reasons and sometimes not) and they don't care how. They give the task of firing to other people who don't have the power to do anything to care for those they're firing. The firers know that their employer doesn't care, and that they have little room to do anything to assuage the pain they're delivering. If they let their humanity enter into how they do it, they might be hurt and be unable to do it anymore, and then they will be on the firing line - so instead, they bury themselves and hide their humanity where no one can get to it.

    We need to work to be useful, but it seems clear that the work is not worth the committment in identity it claims (our committment to work is unrequited). We aren't valued or useful anymore, but disposable. This is not a nature that sane people can keep in mind for long, and when that nature becomes clear, and we can't or won't change it, we count on language to help us look away.

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  2. Biotech Toreador e-mails:

    "If that were written as fiction, i would not think it believable.

    I assume the HR idiot who "thought" it up got picked on a lot as a kid?"

    CJ sez: BTW, are people having trouble commenting via Mac? If so, 1) my apologies and 2) how do we fix that?

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  3. Given that these people are working for a newspaper, I guess that the silver lining is that they won't have to put up with the ugliest twists of their employer's downward spiral.

    Real classless move on management's part. I'd be tempted not to show up to work there again no matter what I'd hear.

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  4. I think this was written as "Fiction" (I hope at least) as is similar to lay-off notice methods used in a George Clooney movie (name escapes me, too lazy for IMDb search) where attempted used computer conferencing to let people go. This just represents the usage of Outside Specialist to handle the dirty work and is a bit galling and depersonalizing where some companies and/or supervisors either won't or can't bring themselves to respect and deal with people face-to-face in this situation. Although many offers of employment may first come by phone this is not appropriate for ending, especially after "years of service". Even in mass lay-offs there need to be privacy considerations but there should be ways to achieve that do not involve waiting at home for a phone call of your fate.

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  5. I can't comment on my wife's iPad, but that runsthrough a PC. I can now comment most other places - the captcha no longer seems to be blocked. I don't have any experience either with Macs or blogging software.

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  6. The Aqueous LayerAugust 1, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    A member of my spouse's family, who worked in the banking industry, was let go along side his colleagues after being lured to an off-site meeting dubbed as 'training'. They were told that they were being terminated, were not allowed back in the bank and that their personal effects would be sent to them...

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  7. This reminds me of the story of how Roche in Nutley laid off researchers in the early 80s. the story goes: everyone was told to take their personal items with them and go to the parking lot. Then names were called - and those folk were allowed back into the building. Everyone else was being separated...Can anyone verify thsi story? Roche had a hard time hiring after that, for a long time...

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  8. Frankly, I would have preferred it this way to the on-site method, which in my case basically consisted of your boss showing up at your cube or in the lab you were working in, saying "Anonymous, can you come with me?" and following him/her in mutual silence as you do the walk of shame in front of your currently surviving colleagues. This, of course, follows half a day of gossiping about the other people who had previously been nuked. Of course no actual work is performed that day. It seems more humane just to give everyone the day off.



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  9. A very good friend of mine had a similar, but possibly worse, experience:

    They were all told to stay at home one (Friday?) morning. If they HADN'T had a phonecall by 10am, they still had a job - and should go in to work 'as normal'.

    I can't even imagine how bad that must have been!

    (That was for a computer company in the UK. He's since left that job, and indeed industry, and has just finished a PhD in psychology.)

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  10. Everyone in the company where my sister-in-law worked received an e-mail at the end of the day saying that a mandatory meeting was scheduled for 9.00 AM the next day. Noted at the end of the message was an appointment time with someone in HR.

    When my wife asked me how I interpreted this message, I told her, "I think that your sister is being let go tomorrow."

    Although not as awful as some of the stories above, I thought that it was a despicable way to fire someone.

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  11. In the most recent layoff I was a part of, we found out via letters in the mail on a Saturday morning (about continuation of health benefits under COBRA due to involuntary termination). The layoff was meant to happen the following Monday, and HR claimed the letters were a mistake, but who really believes HR about anything?

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