South-Western - Management  
Where Did Everyone Go?
Topic Managing Individuals and Teams
Key Words layoffs, stress, productivity
InfoTrac Reference A94139273
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News Story

As companies are laying off workers in record numbers, keeping one's position means taking on the work of those who left in addition to your own for no more money, or sometimes for less money. Not to mention, excelling at the job so you aren't the victim of layoffs, round two. The effort required in doing work for which you weren't trained can be demoralizing to the individual, and damaging to the organization.

With no power to raise prices in an unstable market environment, layoffs are one of the ways to increase profits. As layoffs rise, so does productivity. Some employees have boosted productivity by using temporary workers in place of full-time staff; investment in technology also pays off. In most cases, however, bosses are simply leaning harder on their remaining staff. This results in stressed-out workers and managers alike. A human-resource consultant found that this year nearly twice as many employees as last year are taking sick days, costing employers a lot. Yet, many companies are taking no steps to reduce employee stress in the wake of layoffs.

Some companies are trying innovative ways to keep their employees happy. Harley-Davidson, for instance, lends its motorcycles to workers and rewards some with front-row parking. Other perks include on-site daycare and telecommuting.

Some companies find other ways to reduce costs without laying off employees, like unpaid vacations, pay cuts, and getting rid of staff perks.

Questions
1.

Many managers find themselves faced with a decision about cutting costs during the lean times. One of the toughest is laying off employees. What are some things managers can do to make layoffs easier for those who are left at work?

2.

What is the difference between a layoff and a termination?

3.

What legal issues should an employer be aware of when laying off an employee?

Source Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, "Where Did Everyone Go?," Time November 18, 2002, p. 62.
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