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How does your company handle eliminating jobs?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wedgewood, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. wedgewood

    wedgewood Member

    It's been a shitty week to say the least. At least 20 coworkers have lost their jobs. A third of my department is gone. (And who knows how many more are going to be nuked). We all knew this was coming. Vague, ridiculously-worded emails about streamlining workflow, etc, etc. Gossip from others who reside a rung up the ladder. But nothing specific. Everyone comes to work wondering if it will be their last day. I know I may come off as naive and ignorant, and I've been incredibly fortunate, up til now, not ever having to deal with this kind of mass bloodletting.

    It just seems incredibly chickenshit. So these are my questions: Is this the normal way of doing things? Or is it more common for a company to announce job cuts in advance?
  2. rtse11

    rtse11 Member

    Last one at our place, fella came to the office, was directed to the ME's office, and a few minutes later he was escorted out of the building. No one had a clue.
  3. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    I would say usually its a blindside hit. It doesn't do anyone any good to announce "next Thursday will be layoff day" so its not a "surprise." Having said that, when we dealt with them there, everything was one on one day and there was a gather up everyone type of meeting to address it.
  4. wedgewood

    wedgewood Member

    This isn't the first time we've dealt with staff reduction. In the past, and under a different EIC, there were voluntary buyouts. That was bad, but this is awful. I can't help but think there's a more dignified way of going about this.
  5. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    Just went throughout this myself. Actually, I am still going through it. Company axed 20 percent of the newsroom staff, but we won't get laid off until the end of the week. We would have gotten 15 minutes to clear out our stuff, but elections are this week.

    Truthfully, I would rather have just been told to leave. Working every day for almost two weeks after getting the news is worse. I'd rather just move on and not have to work for this company anymore, but I can't jeopardize my unemployment claim.
  6. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    There's no good way to handle it, really.

    The phone call route gets criticized for being too impersonal.
    The "stealth" layoffs kill morale and productivity due to the water cooler gossip required to figure out who is still working there and who isn't.
    The "do them all at once" makes it really hard on the survivors to adjust on the fly.

    I've been through all three scenarios. None were rosy.

    The toughest part is when you survive and one of your close friends gets laid off instead. That happened to me fairly recently. I miss my buddy, and I also have the survivor's guilt thing going on.
  7. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Agreed. There isn't a "nice" way to fire or lay someone off, speaking as someone who has been on both ends (albeit in really minor positions). There are ways to do it that make you a complete effing asshole, but unless you're giving them a sack of money on the way out, they aren't going to be happy.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    When I worked for Gannett, it was done a couple of ways.

    They did it the surprise route, where a few people got called in and told they were done. My paper actually handled it with dignity. They weren't just shoved out the door with a box, but they were allowed to say goodbye to people, and usually their friends walked them out.

    And thanks to Hopkins' blog, there were times when we knew there were going to be layoffs coming, but we didn't know the exact day until the rumors got so strong that we knew it would be any day now. This made things, needless to say, very difficult. We'd spend more time worrying about our jobs than actually caring about doing good work.

    All in all though, I'd prefer the advance warning. At least then, you can get your resume set up, and somewhat mentally prepare yourself for the last day, even though it's very difficult to do so.
  9. holy bull

    holy bull Active Member

    We just got another blindside this weekend. Like the last few, it wasn't a major purge, but another small one that continues to erode the staff and will show up as a diminished product in subtle ways.

    One person was asked to retire; another fulltimer was reduced to part-time; and a little bit of position shuffling to spread out the damage more thinly. My department was spared -- this time.

    You never get used to the blindside approach, but anyone who is surprised when it happens really, really hasn't been paying attention. Agreed, there is simply no "good" way to do it.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    At my last newspaper job, the rumors went around for almost two years.

    Every 3-6 months you would start hearing rumors. Then a couple people would leave on their own for jobs that weren't steps up. They wouldn't be replaced. Then we'd hear that they won't touch sports. Then we lost a copy editor. Then a design editor would leave to work for the online edition and when you asked why he left he said, "better job security"

    Then, one day you're in the office and you hear it directly. "Layoffs are coming."
    "Should I be worried?"
    "You? No. C'mon. Hell, they'd get rid of me before they get rid of you. I think you're the last person on this staff who should be worried."

    Less than 48 hours later I was gone.

    At least when it happened to me, it was over and done. I've heard stories from some on this board who were let go and then had to work another two weeks. That's insane.
  11. beanpole

    beanpole Member

    My last job announced long in advance they were planning layoffs, but nobody knew when the big day would come. Hung over everyone's heads and it was awful when D-day arrived (I was one who got canned), but at least I got to put away a little cash ahead of time. We didn't make any big purchases and didn't go on vacation, so that helped get through the rough spot until I found another job.

    My current gig uses the blindside approach. But I wish they would make an announcement when it's over ("Sadly, we had to let go of X people because the economy sucks, everyone affected has been notified") because how it is now, the entire office is still on pins and needle for a week because nobody knows if the axe is still swinging.
  12. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    wedgewood, I understand where you're coming from. That's how I felt the first time we had layoffs at my place. I hate to say this, but it actually gets a little easier to deal with each time it happens. We've had three rounds of layoffs in four years. After the first one I started having a better idea what to expect. The unknown is what makes it tough the first time.

    We use the blindside method around here. Only a very few people knew the first round was coming. I lost a member of my staff, and I was told about it two days before it was done. Two of the toughest days of my life, working with someone who was about to lose their job and not being able to say anything. In the latest round, one of the people let go was a friend -- someone I'd hung out with a few times away from work. As a manager, I was told something was in the works, and I didn't know for sure, but I could read between the lines and figure out he was losing his job, and I couldn't say anything.

    This business of being told you're getting laid off and then having to work two more weeks is BS. Why would any management team believe anyone would continue working under those circumstances? I suppose they just don't give you your severance if you don't work the two weeks, right? That's what keeps people working? Sounds like third-world dictatorship to me.
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