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Home > Blog: Work/Life > A Layoff by Any Other Name Still Sucks

A Layoff by Any Other Name Still Sucks

When it’s time for employers to "trim payrolls" (Shhhh! They really mean “layoffs,” but please don’t say that word!), they often go to great lengths to hide the reality that they plan to get rid of some of the hired help. They toss some perfume on that pile of manure, you know, the one right next to the pig wearing the fresh lipstick. After all, you can't say "layoff" (D-ohhh!) or you'll deflate the morale of the employees who will remain!

Do employers really have to resort to what they see as “happy talk” when they cut staff? Everyone knows what’s happening. It's becoming comical. When it’s time to announce layoffs (There! I said it again! Ha Ha! Try and stop me!!), a lot of companies see their employees as dumb as dust. A recent article from left me both amused and dumbfounded at how a few big companies sugar-coated upcoming job cuts. For instance, according to the article:

  • American Express plans to cut 7,000 jobs as part of a “re-engineering plan.”
  • Fidelity Investments called 1,300 upcoming layoffs “cost improvement plans,” and my favorite…
  • eBay cut 1,500 jobs in October as part of an – ahem! – employee “simplification.”

And there are these other buzzwords that say the same thing:

       • Downsizing
       • Rightsizing
       • Headcount reduction
       • Streamlining
       • Labor force rationalization
       • Eliminating redundancies
       • Reduction in force
       • Job action.

Oh, here’s another one: normal involuntary attrition (Barf bag, please!).

As Charlie Brown would say, with a roll of the eyes: “Good grief!”

I’ll be blunt: The economy is not doing well, thousands of people are losing their jobs and collecting unemployment, and I’m sure many others are retooling their resumes in the event they’re next to pack up their stuff and bid tearful and anxiety-laden goodbyes to their colleagues. They read and hear the same news and don’t need to be force-fed a pile of rose-colored spin (read: crap) when their employers decide they need to trim payrolls. If that’s what they hear, then, at best, they’ll just weather the storm until better days return; at worst, their intelligence will be insulted enough that they’ll want to leave on their own when the right opportunity comes knocking.

That would be called normal voluntary departures, or what I would prefer to call: “Take this job and shove it!”

Which of these euphemisms for “layoffs” do you find most annoying? Please share your thoughts below. In addition, feel free to vote for one of five listed in this poll at (Note: The poll should be available through the winter.)

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