Layoffs - How to Not Get onto the List


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Layoffs are part of corporate America. Several times a year the business section of the newspaper mentions another large layoff at well-known companies. One of the biggest layoff announcements of the year 2005 has been made by General Motors. GM wants to layoff about 30,000 of its employees. Several other companies have made similar announcements and more are to expect - sooner or later. This can happen almost anywhere and in any industry.

Employees fear these layoffs as it seems it is not predictable and inevitable to be laid off. Up to a certain percentage this might be a true statement. As an example – if a whole location or plant is being shutdown layoffs will hit almost everyone. But if only 10% of the workforce is being laid off it feels like gambling. Who will be the victims? Nothing the individual employee can do about it until the actual layoff happens. But this does not necessarily need to happen. Recent studies have shown that employees can make strategic moves to avoid being put on the list of workers to be laid off.

Corporations use large layoffs to secretly get rid of employees that they would have problems with getting rid of other otherwise. Often the fear of being sued by a departing employee has them avoid to fire employees in other situations, but when a large reduction workforce is being announced it is much easier to include certain employees in the layoffs and to take away touchy situations that would lead to expensive law suits. So, instead of firing or laying off troublesome or expensive employees as isolated incidents these layoffs gets “queued" and included into larger rounds of layoffs – effectively disarming the risk of being sued. But it’s not always the troublemaker who gets included in layoffs, it’s also employees that do not perform well, employees that undermine the moral, employees that expensive and not productive, and employees that just don’t seem to fit into the corporate culture.

Here are some items that eventually get an employee onto the list of workers to be laid off. Be aware that you will never find official documentation about this. These are unwritten rules executed by many corporations across the board. These reasons will eventually be distributed verbally, but you will never find a written statement about them. Increased risk of being selected as an employee to be laid off during large reductions in workforce comes from taking extended time off from work. This can be a medical or family leave or extensively using all available sick days. Another item that can get an employee onto the list is openly complaining about a manager. Being seen gossiping around the office is another reason to silently make it onto the list of layoffs. Being the guy or gal that is member of committees that try to do good at work (organizing social events, getting more company money spend non-work related items (e. g. a gym at work, TV in the kitchen, etc. ) can also be a reason. Why you might ask? Well, these activities are usually done during business hours and the employee is much less productive. The employee might only work 50% of the available, but is being paid a full salary. Employees who eventually drive up prices for group health insurance could be at risk, too. Also, employees trying to get workers organized in a union could also be at risk to be put onto the overall list of employees to be laid off. By going through this list it is easy to identify a pattern. Employees who interrupt the overall work process for themselves and others are seen as less productive and more expensive for the business. Employees who use company provided benefits extensively do cost the company a lot of money.

By releasing these workers at the same time when general cost cutting is needed, the savings affect for a business can partially increase additional 20% - 40%. Get rid of your most expensive and least productive employees and the cost savings are optimized. Once those “problem" employees have been identified, businesses will select the remaining employees to make it onto the list based on departments that are subject to layoffs – the normal procedure when trying to eliminate 10% of a workforce. The “trouble making" employees now have less chance to sue the company about being laid off. To make a connection between generic cost cutting layoffs and to be laid off because of their work habits or personality during those situations is very difficult to prove for employees. And again – there will be rarely a written memo about these kinds of strategic moves.

About the Author

Christoph Puetz is a successful entrepreneur and international book author. Christoph operates a successful Pregnancy and Parenting website. One of the other websites he maintains can be found at Pregnancy Announcements ecards .


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