Industry Analyst & Strategist

Do You Really Still Have a Job?

It's going one heck of a year (or more) for layoffs. Starting in 2022 Q4, we've seen the big, and even bigger firms, show huge swathes of staff out of the metaphorical door. Remote work has made it much easier just to send that email out and cut access. For those that are employed, well keep reading.

Over at the Wall Street Journal paywall, How Companies Can Lose Workers Without Imposing Layoffs, Chip Cutter writes:

Though the labor market remains historically tight, with a 3.4% unemployment rate as of January, many companies are looking to signal to investors that they are taking steps to cut costs and increase efficiency, executives and advisers say.

Companies have long had ways to push employees out without firing them. Reorganizing teams, requiring employees to report to new bosses or making them take on new projects can all prompt staffers to look elsewhere for work, said Roberta Matuson, an executive coach and adviser to businesses on human-resources issues.

There are more telling methods as well, including reducing the ability to work from home, moving/shutting down offices (forcing relocation), shifting your manager or direct reports, cutting overtime, and changing the review process. For reviews, we are seeing a return to Stack Ranking. Virginia Backaitis at reworked, Stack Ranking Makes a Comeback:

It's important to point out that once the stacking is done, the worker(s) at the bottom of the stack aren’t automatically fired. “I think a person who performs less well relative to their peers may just have more areas of improvement than that other person,” said Sunderji. He added that if “you're trying to keep that person on the team, the discussion isn't like, well, relative to these people, you are worse. The discussion is about their areas of improvement, and whether they're able to make progress towards them.”

"Aren't automatically fired," should NOT bring you any comfort. In this economy, assume the worst. And who cares about quiet quitting when there is quiet firing, way back in November 2022, from Ben Wigert at Gallup, Quiet Firing: What It Is and How to Stop Doing It:

Quiet firing describes how managers fail to adequately provide coaching, support and career development to an employee, which results in pushing the employee out of an organization.

While the article is trying to advocate for managers to be aware of their actions, it can also be a deliberate process, to, well, maybe let some people be inspired to look for work elsewhere. And if course if that's the goal and you don't switch to a new company, you may be on the RIFfing side of the equation. Here are three listicles that reiterate or expand on previous thoughts:

Good luck and stay aware.

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