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The morning after layoffs

October 17th, 2008 at 08:08 am

Yesterday, I was known as the hatchetwoman. I was that dreaded HR person who had to let go a handful of employees, some of them long-tenured, as a result of the economic downturn. No fault of their own...just the bad luck of not having enough business coming in. Needless to say, even I didn't like myself too much. How do you look someone in the eye and say that it was not personal -- it was a "difficult business decision", just as the script instructed us to say.

We can justify and rationalize all we want, but at the end of the day, it's people's lives, livelihoods and families that are impacted. Part of me is relieved (that it wasn't me and I still have a job) and another part of me is feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.

If there is one bright spot (if that) is that my departing colleagues are getting financial planning/budget management support from a certified financial counselor as part of their outplacement benefit. At a minimum, it is a resource to help them get counseling and tools on how they can stretch out their severance pay and unemployment benefits for as long a time as it takes to find a new job...I hope they use it.

4 Responses to “The morning after layoffs”

  1. merch Says:

    I have had to fire and lay people off in my career. Firing was always easier. With firing, it was always something the employee did that caused the firing. Lay off were always harder, especially ones I did that cut good people. But, I always approached as being fair with no favoritism and as honest as I could. I never sugar coated it and if I though the person did a good job, I would always offer myself as a reference.

    I have had people cry, swear at me, and threaten me. I have also had people thank me and understand that it was difficult. The way I have approached things is always how would I want to be treated.

    I believe that is all you can do. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

  2. MICLASON Says:

    I've been there.... at one point things got so bad, every Friday people would come in and start whispering about "who will be next?"....horrid.
    I don't envy you. ((hugs))

  3. MileHighGirl Says:

    I was recently let go in a massive layoff. I was holding myself together until they told me my final day was the same as my wedding day, I couldn't take it and started to cry. I have no pity for people who decide who stays and who goes, but they are not usually the ones who do the firings. They get HR to do their dirty work...

  4. dave Says:

    Well, such is life. I was laid off yesterday after 19 years of outstanding, award wining work for a thankless company. Sure, I was paid well, but not without resentment that a younger person with no experience could do a lesser quality job at a lower wage. But that's only part of it. The people that did the cutting are the same ones who approved a double digit pay increase for themselvs year after year. I was offered to come back and do my job on as as needed basis, without the health benefits for myself of my child, which I need more that ever this year. And I know the company needs to have my work done, but I don't know who will do it, or at what wage. I'm also in a labor union, which the management team has been trying to eliminate for all of the almost twenty years I've been there. Why? who knows... I do my job well, and without human recognition because the union was thought of as the bad guys. Isn't it tragic that the people that drove the company into the ground are the ones that cut the jobs from the ones that built that company up from it. If you feel bad, take a good look why. You may not be directly responsible for the policies and pay scales in place now, but you're part of the team that is. And if you could have stood up and suggested a way for some people to keep their jobs but didn't, shame on you. People don't suffer a guilty consience -"just because"|... that's the voice of reason telling you something and you're not listening. Be careful, the next time it might be you loosing your job because someone else needs a 23 percent raise and there's not enough money left to pay YOUR salary anymore. Once all the layoffs are done, they might not need an HR person anymore.

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