Tag Archives: Layoffs

Sympathy for the Hatchet Man


I recently wrote an article for the Des Moines Business Record about the hard life Human Resources departments are currently having. In the article I point out that even though they may be the one’s swinging the axe, they are suffering almost as much as the person on the other end as well.


Living, breathing and working in the world of work brings continual challenges. The challenge of staying motivated at work is increasingly difficult when people around you are being let go all of the time. As soon as you start to feel safe and are able to once again focus on your work, another round of layoffs occurs, sometimes without any warning or sense of it coming.

Because work and life are so closely connected, they both become a struggle to get through, and any sense of joy or accomplishment can be sapped away. It is tough on the front lines.

For better or worse, I have an interesting vantage point. In my job, I am on the front lines viewing a lot of what is taking place. The one department in companies that I believe has it the hardest is one that you might not suspect. The human resources department may have the most challenging job right now.

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Recession Wire Interview: The Confidence Game


I was recently interviewed by Recessionwire.com for an article about confidence in interviewing. This is a great topic due to the amount of layoffs and the need for people to find work. When layoffs and job loss occur, coupled with no one calling you back after submitting your resume to dozens of job opportunities. Your confidence can take a visible hit, which can inadvertently undermine your job interview opportunities.


The Confidence Game

Mark Twain once wrote that the only things required for success are ignorance and confidence. If we humbly assume a good measure of the former, then the only thing needed for a successful job search is confidence.

Simplistic? Perhaps. But for those of us who awake each morning to face yet another day of launching resumes into the ethers and throwing ourselves at the mercy of old cronies or long-lost college cohorts who just might provide that magical, silver-bullet nexus of our LinkedIn fantasies, it can be difficult to crank up the old confidence meter to the appropriate level of chipperness. Each non-returned inquiry and “we’re not hiring right now” response is one more pinprick in the life raft of our confidence.

But let’s get real—sinking beneath the waves simply isn’t an option. That means we must meet each pinhole in the raft with a fresh wad of Double Bubble, chewed vigorously and confidently. Sure, you can hide in the closet now and then, shut the door, cover your mouth with an unused business suit and let out a primal scream or two. But then shake off the dust bunnies and get back in the living room.

“Everything you do, say, or write is a reflection of your confidence,” says Nick Reddin, business development manager for Manpower, one of the largest employment services companies in the world. “Your resume, cover letter, hand shake, telephone demeanor—everything should project that you are ready to take on the position you are applying for.”

In his position at Manpower, Reddin talks with hundreds of prospective candidates, both as an employment advisor and on behalf of employers. He says his instincts can tell when a candidate is been through the grinder and is starting to feel defeated.

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Stabilizing Your Workforce Amid Layoffs


If you look at the United States, the total number of mass layoff events was more than 23,000 in 2008, involving nearly 2.4 million individuals. In the United Kingdom, unemployment levels rose by 530,000 people over the three quarters beginning in July 2008. Some of the world’s leading companies are trimming their workforces due to the economic pressures of what we are now told by our elected leaders is a “deep” recession.

Indeed, a great number of companies are facing this challenge, but those with effective leadership are faring much better. So how can leaders stabilize the workforce to ensure that the inherent uncertainty in today’s environment and associated redundancies at their own companies aren’t divisive and disrupt business as usual? Businesses need to understand what it is that employees look for from their leaders, whether that be the senior team or the line manager.

Between 2005 and 2008, as part of a comprehensive study about why people follow leaders, Gallup collected information from more than 10,000 national adults (aged 18 and over) to obtain their opinions about leadership and why they follow. This research formed part of our larger study on leadership, including more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, behavioral research data from more than 1 million work teams, and polling results from 50 years of research.

In our follower study, respondents were asked to name the leader who has the most positive influence in their daily life. The word positive was included to ensure that we were not studying leaders who have a predominantly negative influence. Then they were asked to list three words that best describe what that leader contributes to their life.

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Is 2009 the Year of Shrinking Pay?


More than one-third of U.S. employees report they have not received a raise this year or that their compensation has decreased, according to a Tell It Now(SM) poll by ComPsych Corporation.

“We continue to see increased call volume from employees who need help managing their finances in this challenging environment,” said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, Chairman and CEO of ComPsych. “Our customers, realizing the need for supporting and educating employees with financial information, have been promoting the EAP as a place to turn for help as well as scheduling personal finance seminars for their workforce.”

Employees were asked: Has the economic downturn impacted your work? If so, in which area have you experienced the greatest impact?

  • 39 percent said they haven’t received a raise or their compensation has decreased
  • 20 percent said there is more conflict/stress among coworkers
  • 11 percent said they are doing more work due to employees that were laid off
  • 10 percent said they are working more hours/unable to take as much vacation
  • 20 percent said it has not impacted their work

College Grads Face Tough Job Market in 2009


Seniors graduating from college this year will get diplomas, but they may not get jobs. Employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer new graduates from the college class of 2009 than they hired from the class of 2008, according to a new study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The latest numbers also differ significantly from the fall, when employers’ hiring projections looked flat.

“Earlier, employers indicated that they expected to keep their new college graduate hiring levels even with last year,” Marilyn Mackes, the association’s executive director, said in a statement. “Our current survey shows that college hiring is as affected by the economy as other types of hiring.”

The drop in anticipated college hiring is part of an overall slack labor market, which has worsened rapidly amid the recession.

The expected decline in new-grad hires was prompted by the deteriorating economic situation, said the association, a professional group that forecasts trends in the job market.

“More than two-thirds of employers said the economic situation forced them to re-evaluate their college hiring plans, and nearly all of those said they have decreased their planned number of hires,” Mackes said.

The projected drop is likely to mean a sharp decline in employer activity on campuses this spring as well, with 66 percent of employers responding to the survey reporting plans to lower or eliminate spring hiring.

The latest association study also ends a string of positive hiring reports for new college graduates dating back to 2004. Students graduating in the early part of the millennium experienced major drops at the hands of the dot-com bust and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Hiring decreased 36 percent for the class of 2002 but steadied for the class of 2003 before rebounding in 2004.

Employers also seem cautious about the near future. More than 46 percent said they are unsure about their hiring plans for fall 2009, and 17 percent are already reporting that they expect to trim their college hiring further.

February 2009 Employment News: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


The good news:

A report released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that planned layoffs at U.S. companies decreased by 23% from its peak in January. The report indicated that layoffs could remain particularly high in the automotive, manufacturing and financial sectors. Employers announced plans to cut 186,350 jobs in February, down from 241,749 in January.

The decline in job cuts last month offers some hope that January was the peak and we will now see layoffs begin to fall or at least stabilize,” John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, remarked in a statement.

…and the bad news:

The ADP Employment Report showed that 697,000 nonfarm jobs were lost in February as the U.S. recession continues, a wider decline than the 630,000 drop that economists had expected. It was the greatest number of monthly job losses on record.

…and the ugly tired analogy from yours truly:

So depending on your disposition this is good or bad news. If your glass is half empty then none of this is good news in any way. If your glass is half full, then planned February job cuts down 23% will have you dancing in the street to some degree. Or at the very least, a little Mamboing on your way to the kitchen.

Laid-off Employees Grabbing Data by The Terabyte on the Way Out

Sometimes employees walk out with more than their walking papers when they clock out for the last time.

A study by the Ponemon Institute found that more than 59 percent of those surveyed kept corporate data after leaving their jobs. The survey, which was sponsored by Symantec, included responses from 945 adult employees who had lost or left a job in 2008.

The most commonly stolen pieces of information were e-mail lists and non-financial business information, taken by 65 and 45 percent, respectively, of the respondents who took something. Thirty-nine percent admitted taking customer information such as contact lists.

Are they employees from hell? Maybe. But either way, Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, found the statistics surprising.

“I’m not sure that malicious intent and future employment are mutually exclusive,” he said. “Clearly the responses show that obtaining future employment was a significant motivating factor, but when we see a high percentage of individuals who took information knowing full well they were acting in violation of company policy, that hints strongly at the presence of malice.”

Sixty-one percent of the employees who stole business information took it in the form of paper documents or hard files. The next most popular method was downloading data onto a CD or DVD, which was done by 53 percent. Just fewer than 40 percent did it by sending documents as attachments to a personal e-mail account.

Equally troubling from an IT security perspective is that almost a quarter of the participants had the ability to access data even after they left the company, with 32 percent of these respondents admitting they accessed the system and their credentials worked.

“Most of this data loss is preventable,” said Rob Greer, senior director of product management for Symantec Data Loss Prevention. “While the majority of data loss is still due to accidental insider actions or broken business processes, this survey highlights preventable issues exacerbated by a slowing economy.”