Skip to main content

10 Things HR Won't Tell You About Employee Layoffs, Downsizing, and Reductions in Force

FlourishAnyway is an industrial/organizational psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

Whether you call it downsizing, a layoff, reduction in force (RIF), or simply getting fired, it feels awful to have your job cut.  Learn what HR isn't telling you.

Whether you call it downsizing, a layoff, reduction in force (RIF), or simply getting fired, it feels awful to have your job cut. Learn what HR isn't telling you.

All Too Similar: Being Downsized and Getting Dumped

Having your job downsized is a lot like being dumped by a longtime love interest. You try to deny the initial rumblings of trouble, of gnawing discontent. They grow into larger signs of instability.

There are burgeoning red flags that attract outsiders' attention. Word on the street is: You're a short-timer. Can this relationship be saved?

Your partner seems so far away, somehow too busy for you. Communication is scant and strained. Answers leave you with more questions. Finally, you have the dreaded "talk," and through halting words, the news hits you hard.

"Was It Something I Did?"

Struggling to catch your breath, you wonder, "Was it something I did? When did you first know? What will I do now?" You rally your support system. There is blame and grief. You sign legal papers, divide property, and leave others behind. It's not how you imagined this relationship would end.

Getting dumped is all the same, whether it's by an employer or a lover. They say, "All's fair in love and war," and "It's only business," but packing up and starting over sure hurts like hell.

An empty piece of cubicle real estate shows little sign of its former tenant.

An empty piece of cubicle real estate shows little sign of its former tenant.

Trust Is a Very Fragile Thing

As a former HR employee for two Fortune 500 companies, as well as other organizations, I've never experienced job elimination myself. However, over the years, I have survived multiple voluntary and involuntary layoffs and have seen countless co-workers and friends suffer job displacement.

I've also been part of the HR team that restructured and redesigned the workforce, resulting in family breadwinners losing their jobs. Additionally, I've investigated the internal workplace complaints that can follow such job losses.

Trust is a very fragile thing and can take an extraordinary time to heal. Attempting to restore it both immediately and several years after layoffs is exceedingly difficult. It's like trying to soothe someone's broken leg using band-aids.

Too often, workers assume their jobs are secure. Instead of denying your own vulnerability to layoffs, isn't it better to at least know the warning signs that a Reduction In Force (RIF) could be imminent? Forewarned is forearmed.

10 Things That HR Won't Tell You

Based on my HR experience, here are 10 things that HR won't tell you about downsizing.

  1. Executives and key employees knew about layoffs well in advance.
  2. The Company may not have fully considered alternative cost-cutting strategies.
  3. Decision makers perceive RIFs as an opportunity to "clean house" of whiners, poor performers, and problem employees.
  4. Companies don't always have a well-thought-out layoff process (or they don't consistently follow it).
  5. Women, minorities, and older workers may be impacted at disproportionate rates overall.
  6. You CAN negotiate your severance package, especially if there is evidence of discrimination or retaliation.
  7. If you feel unfairly treated, there may be no independent appeals process.
  8. The Company is betting you probably won't consult an attorney.
  9. Surviving a layoff isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  10. Layoffs probably won't create lasting value.
If your employer will be giving you walking papers, put on your hiking boots.  Unemployment can be a tough road.  It's best to be prepared before you get that pink slip.

If your employer will be giving you walking papers, put on your hiking boots. Unemployment can be a tough road. It's best to be prepared before you get that pink slip.

1. Executives and Key Employees Knew About Layoffs Well in Advance.

Barring a sudden jolt to the company, such as the loss of a major contract, the need for workforce reductions hardly catches company decision-makers by surprise. My own experience in HR is that key executives had a year or more warning that job cuts would be necessary. Serious strategic planning began up to six months in advance.

As a result, in the year leading up to mass layoffs, management became more aggressive in enforcing discipline. Thus, if employees facing discipline were "on the fence" between discharge and keeping their job, they were fired. Ultimately, this saved the company from paying out severance later on.

2. The Company May Not Have Fully Considered Alternative Cost-Cutting Strategies.

When a company faces a temporary economic downturn, a variety of cost savings measures are available (see table below). Although unpleasant, such alternatives are often not well explored, however. It's too easy to think "headcount reduction" as a top-of-list solution.

In some cases, layoffs can favorably impact a company's stock price, albeit more in the short run. But the human reality is that those heads are connected to real people and families. Perhaps yours?

Alternatives to Downsizing

Source: Employment Downsizing and Its Alternatives, Wayne F. Cascio

Has the company considered these options?Or these?Or even these?

Cut temporary staff

Freeze salaries

Reduce work hours (for hourly paid employees)

Offer voluntary retirement packages

Delay raises

Implement work furloughs (with or without incentives)

Eliminate overtime

Freeze hiring

Reduce business travel

Cut expensive/unnecessary perks

Raise employee contributions to benefit plans

Postpone or eliminate bonuses

Downsizing is often perceived by decision makers as an opportunity for the company to "clean house."  That doesn't mean you can't question the process or the outcome.

Downsizing is often perceived by decision makers as an opportunity for the company to "clean house." That doesn't mean you can't question the process or the outcome.

3. Decision Makers Perceive RIFs as an Opportunity to “Clean House” of Whiners, Poor Performers, and Problem Employees.

Long before a layoff, HR and other decision-makers can often project that certain employees will be on the list for downsizing. If you cause management that much of a problem, chances are good that you'll find yourself "riffed," even if the Powers That Be must stand on their heads to make it happen.

Employees perceived as troublemakers—that is, the whiners, poor performers, and those who have crossed the wrong executive—typically receive more aggressive performance management in the form of documented performance warnings and Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) in the time leading up to the announced downsizing.

Management previously may have been lax about documenting poor performance. However, in advance of a layoff, these employees' errors come under tighter scrutiny. Communication between them and their managers becomes more written than face-to-face. This often provides decision makers with the necessary documentation to set these employees up for job elimination.

Is your workload dwindling? That's a clue! Don't just twiddle your opposable thumbs.  Figure out what you'll do if your job is cut.

Is your workload dwindling? That's a clue! Don't just twiddle your opposable thumbs. Figure out what you'll do if your job is cut.

4. Companies Don’t Always Have a Well Thought-Out Layoff Process (Or They Don’t Consistently Follow It).

Ideally, companies must first determine their goal and decision-making criteria for layoffs, outline, and document a consistent process for achieving it, and seek appropriate reviews with corporate counsel. Failure to do so could mean legal landmines.

In practice, the process can derail when decision makers with a conflict of interest fail to recuse themselves (e.g., those related to impacted employees by blood or marriage or with an undivulged conflict of interest). Similarly, downsizing can go awry when an unexpected result is achieved—a problem employee is retained, or a protégé is slated for downsizing. The deadly temptation to "adjust" results can be overwhelming.

At other times, time-pressed managers get sloppy, believing they already have all the answers. They want to rush through the planning phase and skip consultations with attorneys. Such practices threaten to undermine the entire system and undo any potential cost savings a layoff might bring.

When Circuit City closed its corporate headquarters in 2009, employees returned from company meetings to find company-owned items on their desks tagged and moving boxes waiting.  They were unemployed.

When Circuit City closed its corporate headquarters in 2009, employees returned from company meetings to find company-owned items on their desks tagged and moving boxes waiting. They were unemployed.

Red Flags: 16 Signs That a Company Layoff Could Be Looming

Red FlagsRed Flags

1. The company is in poor financial health and seems to be "bleeding" money. The stock price plummets over an extended time period.

9. There are frequent closed-door meetings. Outsiders (i.e., lawyers) are present.

2. Activist shareholders become interested in your company (if it's a publicly-traded company).

10. Security presence increases. Security protocol becomes more rigid. (The guard who knows your name actually asks to see your identification.) Moving boxes mysteriously appear.

3. Your company is involved in a merger or acquisition. Your job may be considered redundant, especially if you're employed at the "acquired" company.

11. There is a leadership change. A number of key managers exit. Star performers may find better opportunities, too.

4. The company has employed cost-cutting measures, pay freezes, hiring freezes, pay and benefit cuts, and it has stopped giving raises (or reduced them significantly).

12. Your company consolidates locations, moves to less expensive real estate.

5. Organizational consultants have been called in to identify opportunities for efficiencies. There is talk of "justifying your job" or employees must re-apply for their jobs.

13. Your workload dwindles noticeably. You're assigned a number of tasks way below your skill set.

6. Non-essential budgets have been slashed: travel, training, office supplies, expense accounts, etc.

14. The rumor mill is on overdrive. (Yes, people talk -- even HR, Law, and Accounting.) There are negative press reports about the future of the company.

7. Major functions are outsourced overseas.

15. You're asked for a list of key contacts, projects you're working on, and an explanation of your role in the company.

8. You're in a dying industry or your industry is experiencing a major cyclical downturn.

16. Communications with your manager and others become less frequent, more formal and awkward. You're treated as if you're already gone. (Do they sense something you don't?)

5. Women, Minorities, and Older Workers May Be Impacted at Disproportionate Rates Overall.

Statistics can identify initial evidence of illegal discrimination even in cases when decision makers didn't overtly intend to discriminate. But you know what they say about statistics: There are "lies, damned lies, and statistics." Without getting overly technical here, there are indeed methods that can help protect the sneaky-smart, risk-averse company from tripping those statistical alarms.

Particularly if employment attorneys and industrial/organizational psychologists have not been consulted, legally protected groups may be laid off in greater proportions: females, minorities, and people over age 40. The result is that after a reduction in force, the workforce is often less demographically diverse than its predecessor.

Do you more feel like the chick or the cat?  Negotiate from a position of strength.  Are you minority, female, over 40 years of age, a long-term employee on the cusp of retirement?  Do you have evidence of discrimination, wrongdoing, or retaliation?

Do you more feel like the chick or the cat? Negotiate from a position of strength. Are you minority, female, over 40 years of age, a long-term employee on the cusp of retirement? Do you have evidence of discrimination, wrongdoing, or retaliation?

6. You Can Negotiate Your Severance Package, Especially if There Is Evidence of Discrimination or Retaliation.

Companies often provide downsized employees with one or two weeks of severance per year of service. Don't assume that's non-negotiable, particularly if you have some legal leverage. For example, do you have evidence of discrimination or retaliation for past complaints? Do you have an ongoing complaint?

Don't even think about negotiating a better deal without talking to an attorney first. Depending on the situation, employees are typically given as much as three weeks or more to seek consultation. Say that you need time to consider the offer. Don't mention needing an attorney to anyone, then go consult with one on the down-low because signing a severance agreement means you're giving up certain legal claims. (Personally, I'd opt for an attorney with a flat-fee arrangement.)

Rather than jumping directly into a battle of the attorneys—which you can always do later, right?—it's better to get some basic coaching and try to keep negotiations between you and HR. Although the company has no legal obligation to pay displaced employees severance, you don't have to sign the agreement either.

Get some coaching from an attorney and have them read your severance agreement before you enter into negotiations with HR.  Keep it from becoming a battle of the lawyers.

Get some coaching from an attorney and have them read your severance agreement before you enter into negotiations with HR. Keep it from becoming a battle of the lawyers.

7. If You Feel Unfairly Treated, There May Be No Independent Appeals Process.

The Company may not be following the many legal requirements for downsizing, but finding the right party to complain to is the problem. if you're going to challenge the appropriateness of a decision, you'll be hard pressed to find a neutral party in HR. And potential coworker allies may have already signed a severance agreement in which they agree not to disparage or sue your employer.

Normally, you can file an internal complaint with your company if you feel unfairly treated. HR will review your complaint. But in this case, HR is usually involved up to their armpits in both the design of the layoff system and the decision-making sessions. Talk about a conflict of interest! Now whatcha gonna do?

In a particularly egregious example, one corporate executive I knew directed an entire layoff project that downsized about 1,500 salaried employees nationwide. At the same time, he pulled double duty with his "regular job," which consisted of overseeing the Compliance Department. These are the folks who investigated employee complaints of alleged wrongdoing. Complaints about the layoff therefore were filed directly with his department. Perfectly engineered!

You may be left with the choice of getting the best deal you can or taking your chances and venturing on the long tough road of litigation with an uncertain payout.

How will you play your hand? If you feel wrongfully terminated, you have the choice of negotiating for the best severance possible or suing your employer.  That could be stressful, time-consuming, and involve an uncertain payout. It's your choice.

How will you play your hand? If you feel wrongfully terminated, you have the choice of negotiating for the best severance possible or suing your employer. That could be stressful, time-consuming, and involve an uncertain payout. It's your choice.

8. The Company Is Betting You Probably Won’t Consult an Attorney.

Getting downsized can be traumatic and send you into survival mode. You'll probably focus on your emotions and formulating your short-term strategy, like how you're going to meet week-to-week bills.

You may be less concerned about the fine print in your severance agreement. Although the agreement spells out your right to consult an attorney at your own expense, many people don't, and the company is betting you probably won't either.

The agreement may be written in language that seems more "plain English" than "legalese," but that's because they're required to do that! Consider all that you don't know about severance agreements to be a blind spot and proceed accordingly.

Like these sad-faced seals, you may find yourself depressed after your work friends are laid off.  As you inherit their workloads, you'll also absorb extra work stress.

Like these sad-faced seals, you may find yourself depressed after your work friends are laid off. As you inherit their workloads, you'll also absorb extra work stress.

Survivor Syndrome: The Impacts Of Layoffs On Survivors

Increased workloads

Decreased loyalty and trust in management

Higher stress levels

Feelings of guilt and depression

Lower organizational commitment

Higher voluntary turnover and intentions to quit

Greater job insecurity

Lower job satisfaction

Lower levels of productivity

9. Surviving a Layoff Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be.

Losing your job isn't the only negative thing that can happen in a RIF. Sometimes, sticking around can be pretty unpleasant, too. Following downsizing, survivors typically experience greater workloads, stress and depression, job insecurity, management mistrust and other reactions. Together, these effects (see table above) are referred to as "survivor syndrome."

Although I've survived each company layoff I've been exposed to, I've found them brutal and emotionally draining. Sure, there's that weird guy who never got along with anyone else, and no one knew what he did. Secretly, you're kinda glad to have him disappear, but did they have to march him to the door, close to tears, with boxes of his desk contents piled high? It's enough to make you feel sorry even for him.

I've witnessed the indignity of people having to re-apply for their jobs or getting shuffled to departments that they had previously worked very hard to bid out of. I've silently eye-rolled (it was to myself, wasn't it?) when managers tried to rally the troops by talking about

  • "doing more with less,"
  • the need to "work smarter" instead of harder
  • learning how to "justify your job" every day and
  • "creating greater personal value."

Such talk frustrates workers who are already frazzled, especially top performers who weren't exactly sitting on their thumbs pre-layoff. Just as being laid off feels lousy, surviving can really suck, too. It'll take some time or a change of job scenery to bounce back. (That's what I did after two rounds of cuts at the same company.)

Get your head up off that desk. Whether you've been downsized or you are a "lucky" survivor, you'll get through this.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.

Get your head up off that desk. Whether you've been downsized or you are a "lucky" survivor, you'll get through this. Bad things sometimes happen to good people.

10. Layoffs Probably Won’t Create Lasting Value.

Downsizing encourages survivors to become

  • risk averse
  • less innovative
  • less productive, and
  • less cooperative in information that they share with teammates.

Although businesses may see a temporary boost with labor cost savings, in the long term, RIFs typically don't create the lasting value that business leaders strive for.

As institutional knowledge walks out of the door, companies sometimes realize their job cuts went too deep. As a result, don't be too surprised if a year or so after that layoff, some of those same jobs that were eliminated get re-posted and filled with fresh new faces.

Studies have tracked the performance of downsizing firms versus nondownsizing firms for as long as nine years after a downsizing event. The findings: As a group, the downsizers never outperform the nondownsizers.

— Wayne F. Cascio, Ph.D.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you be downsized if you've been employed a long time at a company (e.g., 15 years)?

Answer: Absolutely. You can be downsized no matter whether you have been employed for 5 months, 5 years or 25 years. It depends on the business needs in which jobs will be eliminated. Usually, the company has a "roadmap" for how it plans to cut jobs -- across the board cuts, certain departments or locations only, early retirement buyout packages, etc. At some point, the company will communicate this to employees. If you are a union-represented employee, job cuts will be coordinated with your union. No one is immune, including management.

© 2015 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 24, 2020:

Josh - Ask your manager and HR for an explanation. Oftentimes, length of service is actually honored as a way of determining who gets downsized, but you need to look at your company's policies.

If you are unsatisfied with the explanation you get, go to an attorney or send the company a certified letter yourself requesting an explanation. Complain of wrongful discharge. Reference any policies or contracts (governing documents) that specify how the company SAYS it will lay people off and see whether they ACTUALLY followed that.

File for unemployment ASAP. If you are in a protected class and believe that's the motivating reason for their decision, consider, consider filing a complaint with the EEOC.

Josh on July 24, 2020:

If HR says they are eliminating your position but they fill the position they stated they were eliminating the next day with someone that has been there longer but has disciplinary actions is that legal ?

Robert Sacchi on July 03, 2020:

Good advice.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 03, 2020:

Bob - We should always be looking for future opportunities because who knows what is in store?

Robert Sacchi on July 02, 2020:

I worked with someone who had the same thing happen with the HR person in his former company. It seems the best strategy is to always look for a better paying opportunity inside and outside your current company.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 01, 2020:

Bob - I like your thinking. I knew someone in HR who had to lay off an entire workforce and the last request the company made of him is to lay himself off, ha. By then he was so burned out. Zero loyalty.

Robert Sacchi on July 01, 2020:

Thank you for directing me here again. It has good information. There does seem to be an upside to "survivor's syndrome". "Survivors" could view it as a good does of reality. Anyone can get laid off. Loyalty to the company is a one sided relationship. Document the more you are doing with less. These are possible entries to a resume. It is also good to add on performance reports, for those companies that have people write their own.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 12, 2019:

andreaat - That sounds like a very financially unstable company, and you are wise to cut bait! I wish you the best in your future career.

andreaat on May 12, 2019:

Hi Flourish thank you for the response I don't live in the states but they have paid me at the time of notice :)

Everything ended abruptly on that day and a short while I realized if I had stayed longer I might not get paid or have to settle for lesser compensation. The HR executive told me that I will get x amount into my bank account in 7 days but couldn't give me a definitive date confidently.

Just a couple days before the money was credited, the HR executive had emailed the payslip over and asked if this is the correct amount to be credited to my bank which they duly did 2 days after. The damage meted out that day would require a miracle of any form for any ops to continue or bonuses to be given. I am moving on from this and hopefully find a job I like.

Once again thank you for answering and have a nice day :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 10, 2019:

andreaat - If you are a US based employee check your WARN notice (note that WARN notices are not always required for RIFs and that states have individual WARN requirements, too). Regardless, if your HR executive isn't confident or competent enough to answer your questions, gather a GROUP of coworkers and go to the facility manager to demand answers. Yes, you should be concerned, particularly if financial problems are the reason for your company's RIF. Document your attempts to get answers. If you cannot get answers through management and through corporate, go to the media and/or elected officials. A friend of mine worked with a retail giant that was liquidated under Chapter 11. It was stressful and full of surprises, and the media assisted in publicizing employees' plight when management failed to respond to employees' reasonable information requests. Good luck.

andreaat on May 10, 2019:

Hi I have received a RIF prior and would like to ask: In future if a HR executive doesn't seem confident enough in telling when is the expected date for the money to be credited in lieu of cheques should I be concerned regards

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 15, 2019:

Patty - Thank you. Unfortunately, it's something I have seen happen a number of times from the HR side and as an employee. I've never been caught in one. In fact, I volunteered for downsizing once but they wouldn't give me a package.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 15, 2019:

Flourish - All of your observations I also have observed among some of my clients' employers and one of my own employers. Reading all this information here is eerie but very helpful. All workers should read this!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 15, 2019:

andreaat - Liquidating assets isn't a good sign. You may want to check into whether the company is financially stable or instead headed for bankruptcy.

andreaat on April 15, 2019:

Hi I would like to ask a question. When a company starts turning their personal assets in hoping for more revenue , Is this considered a warning sign for layoffs?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 21, 2016:

norlawrence - That's very sad to hear. Especially in small towns, people depend on the large businesses that seem to employ everyone and keep the local economy afloat.

Norma Lawrence from California on August 21, 2016:

Great article. I live in Agriculture area. The last large business is talking about shutting down. This is a small town and many people will not have a job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 25, 2016:

DREAM ON - It is devastating to watch people who were "team mates" and friends, associates and even those you didn't care so much for lose everything they worked for. You know their families, personal stories, and may have interacted with them outside of the workplace, and then they're just not part of "us" anymore. Oftentimes, an HR person knows who's even potentially at risk quite a long time in advance. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

DREAM ON on March 24, 2016:

When you hear about it in the news. It doesn't seem real. Until it happens to you or a loved one. What a powerful hub that leaves us with so much to think about. When someone works for a privately owned company and you have to sign a hired at will contract. Other signs are like pictures on the wall. One location closing,cutting of full time hours of employees to the bare minimum. No pay raises except for the new people. Work load increased and there's the door attitude if your not happy. I have never been laid off or let go but to witness others face such a situation is devastating. Thank you for sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:

Barbara - It would be more straightforward if companies just called it what it is rather than try to sugarcoat the term for job cuts. I appreciate your reading and commenting on your experience.

Barbara Badder from USA on June 23, 2015:

I worked in HR for several years back in the 70's. There were a lot of temporary layoffs back then, but downsizing wasn't a word I heard until much later. The cost of hiring and training new employees was taken into consideration then.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 17, 2015:

Pjgermain- Glad you enjoyed. Thank you for reading, my new SEO friend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 19, 2015:

Blackspaniel1 - Thank you for your comment. The situation you reference sounds like such a mess. I hope you've found a better company that is more reliable.

Blackspaniel1 on May 18, 2015:

One thing that might help is those in a company that distributes stock to the employees. If enough people get together, the cause can be eliminated. That aside, it is not a pleasant experience. I had a company make outright offers that were then deemed to be invalid, since the people making them erred, or so they said.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 26, 2015:

Susan - Shame on them. Now they won't have to pay you unemployment because you're quitting. (Maybe it works differently in England?) I'm sorry.

Susan Hambidge from Kent, England on April 25, 2015:

This is a really interesting read. I haven't been laid off - but just handed in my notice because of the unhappiness and unsettled atmosphere in my place (in a huge corporation) where so many have been 'let go' and 're-deployed'. There has definitely been a reduction in my workload and a sudden need for everything to be in writing - but I didn't realise that was a sign until reading this. Thanks

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 02, 2015:

Audrey - Thanks so much. Have a lovely Easter weekend!

Audrey Howitt from California on April 02, 2015:

excellent and informative! Sending this around!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2015:

Lady Summerset - Thanks for stopping by. Companies would likely say they need to trim staff levels out of business necessity, although it certainly does impact individuals and families in the short and long-term.

Lady Summerset from Willingboro, New Jersey on April 01, 2015:

The realities of unlawful downsizing and reorgs have been stressful for so many families across America. In some cases, they even end up with no pensions and poor severance pays.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 21, 2015:

bdegiulio - Thanks so much for your personal comment. Layoffs small and large certainly can be felt for years afterwards. I appreciate your reading. Have a great weekend.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 20, 2015:

Hi Flourish. Great info. Although I've never been laid off I've worked for over 30 years in a large aerospace company and have seen it all. Massive layoffs, small layoffs, furloughs, voluntary layoffs, early retirement offers, no raises, mergers, good times, bad times, etc.. The trend now seems to be small, quiet layoffs that target specific groups. We generally don't find out about them until a few days after it happened unless of course it's our group or we happen to know someone who was affected. You are correct in that they often don't add value. They leave frustrated, overworked and sometimes bitter employees. Great job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Jeannie - Beautifully said. I am sorry it happened to you at all. Thanks for sharing your story.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Deeda - Maybe you should write a hub. You are superbly qualified to do so. Just sayin'.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on March 20, 2015:

I've been laid off once, but I have also worked at companies with everyone around me getting laid off. Neither is a good situation. I actually think I benefited more from being laid off... a severance package, unemployment, and time to look for a position I liked better was a nice change. The really depressed workers were those that were left behind. When I've worked at companies and seen others get laid off, I always worried I could be next. I also had to pick up extra work from those that left. It was no picnic! Lay offs stink no matter how it goes down.

Deeda on March 20, 2015:

Downsizing many times for business and gov't is usually the result of bad long- range planning. Or making products and services no one wants because of price and quality. In these today's climate, the business sector is changing rapidly. Thus, whomever is at the wheel can't live in a fancy world, (fat & happy) waking up Monday to realize things are out of control and some really tough decisions have to be made. Most of the pain is preventable. So sad, but it happens and most likely will continue!

So what can a person do?

Work for a company with a good product with a good future, managed by competent managers/leaders who really care! Meanwhile, when the writing is on the wall, get proactive before the downsizing begins.

Good hub!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Linda - Many thanks. Have a great weekend.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 20, 2015:

This is a very useful hub, Flourish. I'm sure it will be very helpful for many people!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Peggy W - Thanks for commenting and sharing. Sadly, there are a number of cyclical industries that go through this. It has ripple effects through the community as well.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 20, 2015:

Many companies that revolve around the oil industry in Houston see frequent layoffs. It must be so devastating to the workers! That is an interesting quote at the end. Too bad more decision makers are not aware of that end result. Up votes and will definitely share.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Faith Reaper - It's at least good to get a warning and your example of having to pull double and triple duty is very common. That's terrific news on your new boss! I've often thought about that. Happy dancing for you! Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

MsDora - HR, management, Law, anyone is vulnerable. Thank you for reading and voting and have a wonderful weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Heidi - I'm sorry about an RIF affecting your family. It certainly affects those employees left behind, in terms of workload, lost organizational knowledge, and social dynamics. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Ruchira - Thanks for your kind praise, wide sharing, and vote of confidence. Have an awesome weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

Bill - From the Seattle Times: "The news, which was delivered to managers in Everett and to union officials Friday morning, comes as a shock to others because Boeing jet production is set to soar this year." Interesting, huh? Makes you wonder what's up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

bravewarrior - Either way, in such circumstances they're going to talk poorly about you when you're gone. Success and happiness are their own revenge.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 20, 2015:

poetryman6969 - Oh, those were two big clues. People do watch out for themselves during bad times. I'm sure that man had lots to cry about. Very sad. Thanks for reading.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 19, 2015:

Flourish, you always provide such great insight into such matters. I am been so blessed in that I have never been laid off, but now I work for state government and we always know when budget cuts are coming and expect the worse. Once half of our staff was laid off, and my co-worker and I had to work three jobs, even the receptionist's job after she was laid off. We were certainly humbled but thankful to still have jobs.

Oh, by the way, we have a new awesome boss at my work now : ) ... just thought I would let you know.

Up +++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

Catherine - Hiring freezes are a more employee-friendly alternative as long as they can cover key skills. Thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and sharing.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on March 19, 2015:

I've been lucky. during recessions, the companies I worked for simply stopped replacing people who quit instead of firing people. This is an important article for people who work for big companies. Voted up ++ and H+.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 19, 2015:

A powerful eye-opener and very relevant in these days when layoffs happen so often. Thanks for underscoring that everyone in the workplace is vulnerable to job loss. Excellent delivery on what your title offered. Voted Up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

Larry - I'm so sorry you were on the receiving end of an RIF. I've have many friends and coworkers who were too and others who were told by management that they were "lucky" to have survived. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 19, 2015:

Been through the RIF process at our house (though not me). Wasn't a surprise! I think it rarely is. Glad you note that surviving the situation is not preferred either. It's such a stressful environment after a layoff or RIF occurs. Also, the loss of one's work "family" should not be underestimated. Another awesome hub on a situation that all too many companies and workers continue to face. Have a great day!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on March 19, 2015:

I've been through this sort of thing. So frustrating to do a great job and be discarded anyway.

Wonderful article.

Ruchira from United States on March 19, 2015:

Such an elaborate article FlourishAnyway. Loved the details and honestly would not have heard it from the HR's mouth. Glad I got to read from a person who has been working in that occupation for long :)


Voted up as interesting, useful and sharing it across!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2015:

I've never worked for a major company so I've never been laid off. I'm always amazed when one of our major corporations here in the northwest, like Boeing, just announce on a Friday that 2,000 people are out of work....what a shock that must be for those people. Anyway, a very timely and interesting article.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 19, 2015:

It seems most companies have their sneaky ways of restructuring. When the president of the last company I worked for handed the position over to his 30-something son, I saw the changes and it wasn't pretty. Employees who were in key positions - and had been there for years - and were over 50 were forced into retirement only to be replaced with younger candidates.

The Accounting Dept (where I was manager) was downsized from a staff of 5 to only 3, although the work and workloads were the same as when we had a full staff. Talk about stress! Raises were frozen across the board - except for a select few. Talk about discrimination! The officers were buying summer homes while they tried to tell the rest of the company that there was no money for raises or bonuses. (Don't they realize the Accounting department knows better????)

I got fed up with the b.s. and quit. That really upset my controller and the A/P girl that worked under me. They were quite stressed. Then they ended up quitting and the department was replaced - and downsized - to only two people. I'll bet year-end was a bitch!

poetryman6969 on March 19, 2015:

Useful and interesting so voted up.

As for me, when the both money man and the HR dude jumped ship--there was my clue. Since I didn't know, the downsizing layoff came as a complete surprise.

I remember at another company when others were being laid off but not me, seeing a grown man cry.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

linfcor - Cheers to you! Thank you for reading and I wish you all the success in the world.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

Frank - I'm glad you enjoyed it. Have a great week! Thanks for the votes.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

savvydatintg - I'm sorry to hear that. The back-biting can get brutal and information is commerce. Stay savvy.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 19, 2015:

ologsinquito - Short-term thinking rather than long-term gains. Thanks reading and taking the time to comment. Have a great week!

Linda F Correa from Spring Hill Florida on March 19, 2015:

Terrific article ! I have been there done that. Now I am happily retired working as an author on Hub Pages !

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 19, 2015:

Thankfully I never faced this while I was teaching But in recent years there have been major reduction in teaching staffs at schools (causing much confusion and distress for many).

It would be frightening to be suddenly let go with no warning; however anticipating it would help cushion the blow, I would think. Not saying it would make it easier, just that if one could watch for signs and make plans for what to do it might help.

Well presented and I hope many come and read to be in the know.

Angels are on the way to you this morning.

Voted up+++ and shared ps

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 18, 2015:

what a useful list.. what makes a hub like this digestable are the photos.. they help soften the blow good idea .. voted up and useful :)

savvydating on March 18, 2015:

Excellent information. I am thrilled to discover that the non-downsizes do better. The firm I work for is downsizing like crazy. Your article helps me to have a better sense of what is going on. I thank you for writing this great piece. I feel that my job is secure, but it helps me to know what is happening behind the scenes. I'll keep my fingers crossed for myself. (lol)

ologsinquito from USA on March 18, 2015:

I love how you ended this, with a flourish! That's so interesting that studies have actually demonstrated that downsizing is not good for the long-term health of a company.