Downsized: at what cost?
We are rightly worried about the economy, especially when it’s resulted in downsizing. The remaining workforce has rallied admirably. That is why those retaining their positions deserve a lot of attention and gratitude. None of this “just be lucky you still have a job” business.In addition to dealing with survivors’ guilt, they have lost their colleagues and friends and are now required to work twice as hard, often out of their areas of expertise. And they do it mostly without complaint because they know it’s necessary.But what happens when it is no longer necessary, and those at the top say, “Our numbers are up and we are doing better but, hey, they’ve been functioning despite the layoffs, so let’s not add back more people.”There is too often little concern about employee stress, pending burnout, and the fact that folks rightly feel taken advantage of when they know business has again increased and there is little movement to bring on the required staff.It’s not OK. It’s not ethically right to take advantage of loyal employees who stepped up to the plate in a time of need. It’s unkind to turn a blind eye to tired, sometimes exhausted, staff members that are afraid to say anything lest they be considered disloyal. It’s not OK to hurt those who enthusiastically helped.When confronted, decision-makers are often surprised that anyone has noticed. “But, we’ve been operating this way for some time,” they say. At what cost?Gerri King, Ph.D., a social psychologist and organizational consultant, is president of Human Dynamics Associates Inc. in Concord.