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Layoff Shame and Embarrassment

Force executives to incur embarrassing consequences for layoffs
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No current process, regulation or set of morals appears to deter executives of large companies from declaring mass layoffs, aka redundancies to youse over the pond. I myself this morning have observed some five hundred coworkers become former associates before my eyes.

I craft this half-baked idea from my haunt in the men's bathroom where I am hiding with my feet up on the toilet seat -- thank God for wireless Internet -- and feel compelled to share it before a similar fate befalls me. Or I fall in to the loo.

Executives must incur stern, personal penalties for every employee they lay off. Like some Japanese counterparts who prostrate themselves in a display of public shame for a poor business result, their Western counterparts must endure a similar fate. I don't know exactly what would work, that is why I turn to you. Possibilities include:

o Laid-off employees may reside with the executive at no charge until they find new work

o Executives must call their parents and explain what they've done, as well as calling parents of the employees

o One ounce of fat to be injected into the executive's body for every employee canned. For my company, that would mean 31 lbs. just today -- imagine the tension around the big table as they decide who will receive it.

Other ideas?

daruma, Sep 25 2001

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       I take it that you're not going to be walking out in sympathy with your fellow workers then?
DrBob, Sep 25 2001
  

       And what should the executives receive for each person they hire (or even continue to employ)?
beauxeault, Sep 25 2001
  

       Dr Bob, we are working on it.   

       Englishman: exactly so. Draconian-weird is exactly what I'm looking for. Even Pythonesque.   

       And Peter, you may be right. BTW, glad you're OK.
daruma, Sep 25 2001
  

       [beauxeault], //And what should the executives receive for each person they hire (or even continue to employ)?// The employee's services and expertise.   

       [daruma], join a trade union.
sdm, Sep 25 2001
  

       ° Well, for starters they'll be a lot fewer golden parachutes to hand out.
° All executive pay should scale to a proportion of the salaries throughout the firm. This is since we care about how much more the brass make than the subordinate staff. It translates to less salary and bonus relative to less staff wages.
° Pension money must never trickle up -- as go the wage earners, goes the pension fund. The fight of the UMW to gain recognition in the US taught that hard lesson.
° Speaking of collective bargaining, the slipped workers should have recourse through the likes of a stakeholders union. I mean, the sheer hypocrisy of companies that fire hundreds of employees and proceed to woo their stockholders by announcing stock buyback plans.
° New tax structure, giving the corporate truck of expanding and hiring companies a break on their personal income tax, while raising the tax rates for individuals heading companies that show stable profits and a dwindling workforce.
° Forced home office situations. Place exorbitant rent on executive parking spots, cafeteria anterooms, washrooms, services and amenities. Companies could make money off their executives unless they refuse to come in and choose to work at home instead. Can you say, "Employee Satisfaction"?
reensure, Sep 25 2001
  

       but sdm, I don't have a trade!   

       I just want to see some of the VPs limp to their Jaguars with a big lump of reverse liposuction in their rears. . .
daruma, Sep 25 2001
  

       Odd as it may seem, you don't need to 'have a trade' to be in a trade union. It's just a name now. While I don't know where you live or your circumstances, there are bound to be (as [reensure] noted,) stakeholders unions, service unions and other collective bargaining implements.
sdm, Sep 25 2001, last modified Sep 26 2001
  

       Forget having to explain it to the parents of the employees, they should have to call the employees' spouses and kids. Bonus angst points if either or both are in the hospital with life-threatening illnesses.
arghblah, Sep 26 2001
  

       Triple bonus points for a child named Tim.
sdm, Sep 26 2001
  

       (adopts Scargill-esque voice) "Congress - The National Union of Halfbakers urges you to support this motion."
Redbrickterrace, Sep 26 2001
  

       [reensure]'s long and well-written post contains parts I do not agree with, especially the bit about a far over-generalised tax structure that would reward companies with labour-intensive structure. It is the future of manufacturing that there should be automation of simple routine jobs - a constant flux of hiring and firing is simply part of this. Technology is all but wasted if it cannot be implemented. Of course mass redundancies are awful - but it is by (logical) chance that they happen to always occur in noticeable blocks; these alert our emotions, and we react. Usually ineffectively.
There are historical cases where this is not a clear-cut description, I acknowledge; the miners' strike in the 80s in the UK occurred because the Government shut down a nationalised industry, which could have continued to be profitable, had they put more effort into finding intelligent solutions. As a private industry, it could not have survived. The whole situation was made far worse by the prevailing attitudes of politicians and public - the politicians were either snootily unaware of anything outside London (and at a push, Berkshire), or permanently outraged on behalf of some imaginary voiceless pathetic 'little man' plebeian. The public were polarised between those corporately and entrepreneurially surfing on the rising waves of the economic climate, and those stuck in dying industries. Read David Lodge's book 'Nice work if you can get it'.
A change in working environment for executives is definitely something I agree with, and strongly. I cannot understand why we have not yet felt a major backlash against the fat cat syndrome. Working from home and generally in a more mobile sense - yes; the removal of executive suites, parking spots, completely unnecessary car allowances - absolutely. Someone needs to take a long hard look at semi-tangible perks of the high earners, and either force their removal or tax the ass off them. (Apparently, (and this will mean little to non-UK 'bakers) I am the archetypal new LibDem voter - believe in the entrepreneurship and you-make-your-own-success principle of Thatcherism, but a far-leftie when it comes to equality of opportunity and tax. Yes, if I was earning masses of money I would not think twice about paying 50% of it in tax, if I was sure that people with a fraction of the means and less of the opportunity would have the education and healthcare they deserve. "Ah, they all say that until they have to pay it", says my dad, who's still true Blue)
lewisgirl, Sep 26 2001
  

       Shit, man, that's a bit extreme.
lewisgirl, Sep 26 2001
  

       sdm, if the employee's services and expertise is what the employer receives in return for offering employment, then why does the employer need to pay a wage or salary?   

       Yes, there are abuses that need to be weeded out. Correcting abuses such as those listed by lewisgirl is the responsibility of the shareholders, and with some exceptions they have not been very effectual recently.   

       But fundamentally, in the capitalist economic model, employment is not a *right.* It is offered by the employer because he needs skills and expertise, which are offered by the employee because he needs the income. Either party is free not to accept the bargain, and either party is free to end it at any time (with some limits on advance notice). To suggest that an employer should continue to employ those whose labor she no longer needs would be to suggest that the employee should be forced to work for the employer when she receives a better offer, or to suggest that we should all also go out and buy the employers products and services even though we don't need them, in order to support the employer's ability to feed her children.   

       Being laid off is emotionally very painful, whether it happens to one or one thousand. I continue to wonder if there isn't a better way for jobs and skills to find each other. And it is clearly more painful for the laid-off employee than for the employer. But to suggest that any employer who has to lay off employees must be a "fat cat" who is just itching for the chance to really stick it to the crawling hordes seems to me to be evidence of willful myopia.   

       I have known many who have been in the position of having to make the decision and/or deliver the news, and I do not know a single one who relished it. I do not know a single one who did not do everything short of damaging the company (which threatens *more* jobs) to avoid a layoff. I do not know a single one who did not try everything to limit the layoffs to as few as possible. And I do not know a single one who does not consider the experience among the most emotionally distressing in their career.
beauxeault, Sep 26 2001
  

       Daruda's original idea merely implies that it would be extremely satisfying for a sacked worker to see the CEO responsible suffer directly, rather than get a PR officer to issue a statement full of words such as "regrettable" and "unforeseen" - not that working is an entrenched right within the capitalist model. With regards to the demise of British mining, even the NUM in 1984 were not claiming that they could run a profitable nationalised coal industry. Scargill's secondary aim after stopping pit closures was to get the level of coal subsidy West Germany got, allowing them to undercut their competitors (ie us)
Redbrickterrace, Sep 26 2001
  

       I have an idea.... GROW UP!
seal10, Sep 26 2001
  

       Surely if humyn beings were assets rather than liabilities stock prices would not go up after their issuers announce layoffs.
LoriZ, Sep 27 2001
  

       [beauxeault], OK, my bad - I wasn't clear enough. In return for each person they hire, the employer receives the chance to expand, or just cope with his/her operations. That's why they hire people, right? Continuing pay is just compensation for continuing service.   

       The totally expendable employee doesn’t fit in with my notion of fairness. Employees can take the opportunity to expand relying on individuals, but individuals can’t rely on business to grow and expand? It just doesn't gel with me...
sdm, Sep 27 2001
  

       So, I went to the halfbakery and a serious discussion broke out.   

       Lewisgirl, I was hoping for something more along the lines of "Croissant-patterned knickers" here, something three-stooges-esque; instead I feel a somber tone more apropos of NPR. I wonder where I've gone wrong? redbrickterrace, you get me, cheers.   

       I didn't want personal advice, I didn't want analysis of what I may be feeling, and I didn't want a serious, erudite and thought-provoking colloquium -- although I am learning quite a bit and pleasantly surprised to see the last bit has happened here.   

       I wanted thoughts about making it personally unpleasant for managers to participate in the decision to fire masses of people, viz.:   

       1 - 5 people: get a wart on your nose 6-10 people: forced to wear polyester for a month 11-15: have to drive a Yugo 16-20: get a punk haircut, gelled straight up in the air and painted fuchsia, must appear at your country club and offer no explanation.   

       Like that. RonHamel's posting re Daewoo amazed me -- thanks, Ron. Peter, I read your link and I think I understand your point: people doing the layoffs may well feel enough remorse but are conditioned not to display it. Granted.   

       But dammit, I still want slapstick. I want the CEO's Mercedes to have one wheel a little out-of-round and have him go wooga-wooga as he drives home. I want the CFO who couldn't project the finances to start to drool. I want the CIO who closes a call center abruptly to grow a unibrow.   

       But I don't think it'll happen here. The topic may be too serious and sorrowful for the irreverence I seek.
daruma, Sep 28 2001, last modified Oct 01 2001
  

       daruma, //11-15: have to drive a Yugo// ... You sadistic bastard!
sdm, Sep 28 2001
  

       ...while belting out the following:
La illah ha il Allah Hu
Il Allah Hu
Allah Hu
Hu
thumbwax, Sep 28 2001
  

       Peter! A serious idea gets irreverence? Underwear filling instantaneously with pudding is serious?   

       How long an apprenticeship must one serve in the halfbakery, 3.5 years? I'm still confused...   

       And thumbwax, that's baked, I just heard that song on KQCM . . .
daruma, Sep 28 2001
  

       thumbwax, brilliant. Can I get that on a t-shirt? I'm about to take my first flight since 9/11, and I'd love to wear that to the airport. Think anybody would stop a blonde wearing an Islamic Call to Prayer on her shirt?   

       Sorry for the dark humor ... the nerve-calming breathing exercises aren't working ...
1percent, Sep 28 2001
  

       Thanks for the sympathy, guys. The flight turned out to be the least of my problems ... they wouldn't let me take my razor on board, and I haven't shaved my legs in three days.   

       Not that such things really matter, up here in liberal, tree-huggy Oregon ...
1percent, Oct 01 2001
  

       UB - Yes, you should. Everybody should move to Portland, Oregon. It's a wonderful place, full of sweet, smart people who do interesting things ... and the property values are great.   

       I know, blissmiss. I looked for that box cutter, found it was missing ... and only then remembered that I'd left it embedded in the neck of the really annoying flight attendant. "Y'all's gonna have to look up for just a sec, whal we go over the flaght safety instructions ..." There's only so much of that twang a person can stand.   

       Fortunately, I found that my switchblade worked even better than the box cutter, as a personal shaving device. I'm now wondering if my stun gun might have the same beneficial effects as electrolysis; I'll do some research and get back to you.
1percent, Oct 02 2001
  

       blissmiss, the pits of coarse what? piano-wire?
daruma, Oct 05 2001
  

       Here in the US layoffs are on a staggering rise. From the corporate perspective.....layoffs and mergers must be implemented to remain cutthroat and competitive. But isn't this simply the short term, knee jerk reaction?   

       People are resources....and with proper training, an employee should not become obsolete or thrown in the thrash like a used snot rag.   

       I would recommend:   

       1. Companies must first make a legitimate investment of time and dollars to either train or relocate the individual to another job. That process should take a LONG time to accomplish....up to months or even years to accomplish depending on the situatuion.   

       2. The analysis of short term profits should be accompanied with an analysis of long term incentives for retirement packages or other more favorable way outs. Here in the US the Federal Government is still struggling with a basic equation of providing 25K bonus incentives for "early outs" when it has been conclusively shown that the long term gain far exceeds the short term loss.   

       3. Companies must seize the opportunity to provide more meaningful "temp agencies" which cover a wide range of technologies/services and which provide flexible employment over a wide range of opportunities.   

       4. Don't revamp current pay and other incentives for CEOs....which here in america often come out to 100 million PER YEAR. DETHROWN CEOs. In my job we have a model which has worked with some very limited degree of success...although the concept is very sound. TEAMING is employed and different people in the team are given a chance to run the team. It's neat because a one person can literally boss around a person of twice the salary. Ideally, you find that certain people....if given the chance....rise to the occasion and become very good leaders. We should all find more practical ways to share in the "leadership" process. Certain self-proclaimed God-like individuals who make 100M per year are not necessarily the best leaders.   

       Unfortunately, free enterprice gone mad is not the answer. We are not gracefully progressing to a "new age" where people enjoy life more, work less, and have more security. Couple this with the exhorbitant cost of college and longer hours on the job....and you've got a stressful, inefficient, counterproductive environment.   

       Does it take the "Microsoft Model" of bizarre corporate wealth to provide interesting, creative working conditions?   

       What's the point? It's simple. The system is grossly inefficient. The products and services themselves eminating from this vast supply of technology and talent don't even help to fulfill the dream of a better life. They further exacerbate the problem by not providing more efficient solutions to age old problems.   

       After generations of human endeavor....we SHOULD have affordable transportation. We SHOULD have affordable housing. We SHOULD have affordable education. We SHOULD have affordable health care.   

       Inefficiency of implementation is the root cause.   

       The bizarre catch 22 to all of this is that answers are available....but they break the paradigm of the insanely inefficient work ethic.
Bob Wade, May 12 2002
  

       I was talking to a member of senior management not long after he cut about 10% of the department. He actually felt good about what he had done. After all, he was making the company leaner at a time when business was down. He says the company doesn't owe the employees anything. They work, they get paid.   

       Shortly after, one of his most critical middle managers quit for a more stable job at a competitors. The senior guy made no secret that she was betraying his trust. Now the department was in shambles and contracts were under resourced. Traitor!   

       There's nothing so hypocritical as management.
FloridaManatee, Mar 05 2003
  

       A friend of mine just told me how the president of his company makes a point of paying bonuses to the lowest paid echelons first, often leaving the senior ranks out in the cold. Needless to say, morale is excellent even in these difficult times and turnover is minimal.   

       All too many senior managers, though, are like your example, puzzled why their employees suddenly have no loyalty.
DrCurry, Mar 05 2003
  

       I often dream, when I land my dream job, (or any worthy job, for that matter these days), of negotiating something like that in my hiring terms. I take a 6k figure lower, with the missing 6k sent into an anonymous fund spread around for some of those near-bottom.   

       There's companies and their logic of staying and business and all that. But there's also humanity to deal with.
RayfordSteele, Mar 05 2003
  

       Easy enough to give that amount to the church/temple/mosque/OTB.
DrCurry, Mar 05 2003
  

       //the missing 6k sent into an anonymous fund spread around for some of those near-bottom//   

       I have an unofficial deal with my secretary. She gets 5% of my first two months' bonus and 1% thereafter (cash, tax free). It's not a lot, but that's on top of what the company pays her.   

       In return, she keeps me out of serious trouble and makes me look good through the quality and speed of her work.   

       You might think that's what she's supposed to do, but you'd be surprised what a difference it makes to her dedication and morale.
FloridaManatee, Mar 06 2003
  

       no one wants an ounce of fat injected into their bodies. but on top of that, why not allow the poor laid-off employees to engage in a good game of "SLAP THE CEO". Oh what fun it is.
lizzaurenpizzagni, Mar 06 2003
  

       Newspapers could publish graphs of "Numbers of hours worked accident-free" for any company they choose. Those understanding graphs would note relationships exist in employee role saturation and mishaps over time.
reensure, Jan 06 2005
  

       Conjures up the notion of a "Massive Layoff Retribution Agency"...
biff, Jul 23 2006
  

       I think something lighthearted would show that an employer had a sense of humour and appreciated that there maybe ill feeling. I suggest that each departing employee be given a lemon merangue pie, which they can either take home and enjoy with the family or hurl at the boss who for today will be operating a genuine open door policy.   

       When firing 2 or 3 people, this would be a minor irritation for a boss, but when terminating 500 people, that's a potentially lethal amount of pastry.   

       To accomodate the injection of fat idea, you could also have the option of the boss eating the pie.
marklar, Jul 23 2006
  

       The one thing that drives me nuts is that people don't seem to understand the definition of a corporation, (or to a lesser degree, any company): The purpose of a corporation is to make a profit. Notice that after the word profit, there is a period. It does not say "... if that wouldn't hurt the lives of the employees.' Nor does it say "...if that doesn't damage anything." No, the purpose of a corporation is to turn a trick, and NOTHING more.   

       Now, I'm not saying that is a good thing, just that this is the reality of the situation.   

       So the people who hire the executive (the board of directors or the owner of the company) would NEVER punish him/her for screwing over the workers, UNLESS that damaged the bottom line: The profit margin.   

       Again, corporations do not exists to employ or care for workers, they exist to line the pockets of thier stock holders.   

       So, what you have left out of your idea is how to connect it to the reality of the situation. If you had gone for a union type organization that records and advertises the "top ten most employee damaging CEOs in the world" or even, and I doubt this is a good idea, passing a law that requires these measures, then I could understand it.   

       Just to make sure everyone understands, I'm not advocating for emplyees to get screwed, I'm just pointing out the reality and fish-boning the idea because it doesn't address it.
James Newton, Jul 23 2006
  

       This idea is effectively a rant, and should have been MFDd. And Newton, it is a scary testimony to how PC trained people are that you feel the need to apologize in advance for having an opinion.   

       There are far more employees browsing the web at their bosses expense and generally getting dick accomplished than there are those getting laid off. Odds are you're doing it when you're reading this annotation.   

       [m-f-d] Rant.
theircompetitor, Jul 23 2006
  

       I agree - it's a rant, but more important. it's devoid of invention. It should go.
xenzag, Jul 23 2006
  
      
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