What the !x@x!!!? Can’t We Find Alternatives to Nasty Layoffs?

As a recruiter, it’s become very clear how weak the hiring market is. I’ve got zero jobs to fill and lots of candidates looking. Don’t get me wrong, there are jobs out there. I just don’t have any of them. I’ve been able to compartmentalize this so far, leaving it at work. But recently, some of my closest friends have lost their jobs – or have been told that they will most likely be receiving a pink slip in a month. (What the heck is a pink slip and does anyone actually get one when they are laid off? If anyone knows the origin of this colloquialism, drop me a comment.)

One of my friends is a Producer for an entertainment television show. He’s been creating award-winning journalistic pieces for them for years. Two weeks ago, the higher ups told him that they couldn’t afford him and were going to let him go when his contract is up in a month. Then, the very next day, his boss called him in to say, “hey, we’re trying to find money in the budget for your salary so you’re not exactly out yet but you should look for a job, AND try to keep it on the QT as we don’t want to hurt morale. “ In other words, “You’re fired. Oh, wait, no, you’re not fired, but you might be fired. And, even though you might not have a job in a month and have a family to feed, don’t talk about it because we don’t want anyone to get upset (except for you). Just sit there like a good little puppy and wait to find out if you can stay or go.” What the —-?

Another friend, in the finance business, lost his job because one of the company’s biggest clients requested that they hire someone of their liking to handle his account. My friend was well liked by EVERYONE and had a great reputation at the company. BUT, if the client didn’t get his way, the firm would lose the account – their biggest one. They had “no choice” but to let my friend go. What the—?

What happened to common decency? Shouldn’t we as managers fight for our staff? Shouldn’t we ALL treat others the way we want to be treated? This is really outrageous corporate behavior.

A few weeks ago, rumor has it that Conde Nast laid off a bunch of receptionists to save some dough. How ‘bout laying off the town cars and fancy lunches instead? All of this got me thinking. I’d like to Obama-ize corporate America when it comes to how it treats its people. Let’s stop being rote and thoughtless and think of new ways to handle a crisis. Instead of firing, how about cutting costs in other ways?

It was at this point that I read a front-page article in the NY Times about Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom – a major law firm – who is offering associates paid leave to save money. They are literally telling some Associates “Don’t come to work for a year and we’ll pay you a fraction of your salary. You enjoy, we’ll cut some costs, and you can come back in a year or so when things get better. “

Wow! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Why can’t we show our employees that they are important to us? In the end it will only make our workforce happier, which leads to better productivity.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog in which I take this concept to another level – listing the top alternate ways companies can save money WITHOUT laying off staff!

Until then…carpe diem…

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