5.18.2009

Layoffification

Up until about ten years ago, I'd never been laid off from a job. I'd been fired sure and had quit other jobs but never been laid off. In the last ten years I've been laid off three times and am about to be laid off for the fourth time in a couple of weeks when the school year draws to a close.

With some luck and hard work, I won't ever be in a position be laid off again because of our new venture with Kyani. But this post isn't about network marketing or why I think it could be our saviour.

Nope, this post is about all of the inventive ways that layoffs are euphemized. And so, without further ado, let's get to the notices.

Retrenchment - I first heard this in South Africa many years ago. Fitting because it means being returned to the trenches to fight for another job.
Frogwalked - when the dotcom bubble burst and companies were folding overnight, I've heard about layoffs being accompanied by security guards "assisting" former employees to the door in order to keep them from stealing supplies.
Re-aligning our cost structure - seen on Twitter this morning. Execu-speak for layoffs, doesn't that sound nicer than layoff?
Streamlined - almost sounds like it could be a good thing. And I suppose it is for the executives who keep their jobs and their fat bonuses for crappy work.
Offboarded - I'm not sure about where this one comes from nor does it sound like anything good. Probably because of the pervasiveness of "water-boarding" in the media these days.
Corporate outplacing - basically, your job has been given to someone overseas who'll do it half as well for a tenth the cost. Isn't a global economy awesome?
Synergy-related headcount restructuring - I think, if someone were to say this to me, I'd shout BINGO! and ask where to pick up my winnings.
Non-essential employees - which is, basically, saying "fuck-you, you aren't good enough to stay".

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that there are very solid reasons for laying off employees. But putting a dress on a pig doesn't make it a prom queen and making up euphemistic phrases to sugarcoat the reality of a layoff is a disservice and, essentially, rude to the people being thrown back into the job market.

Be a real leader, be straight and up front with your soon-to-be previous employees and they'll not only respect you for it, they won't go out of their way to slag you online and to other people they know.
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