Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lay off the layoff rumors

By Bethany Hansen

I am from New Jersey and my mother works for a township that recently laid off some of its employees. My mother survived the cut but says that there is talk that more employees will be laid off in September or the beginning of next year. A similar situation occurred with the last series of layoffs: people spread rumors about them for months before management officially announced who would be laid off. Then the employees who were laid off had two months between their notification of termination and their termination date. My mother described the atmosphere at work as distracted, stressed, and unpleasant—no one was getting work done.

It seems that the municipal management should learn from the first round of layoffs and deal with the rumors right away. It is not fair for employees or productive for the organization for everyone to be worried about imminent layoffs. Also, there wasn’t a lot of work to be done (one of the reasons for the layoffs) and so those people who had two months left probably felt fairly useless.

From this anecdote I have gleaned two lessons: (1) rumors about layoffs are destructive—employers should act decisively, and (2) if employers can afford to give their terminated employees a period of time to continue their employment they should consider giving the money to the employee as a severance benefit rather than requiring them to actually work during that time.

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