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Monday, February 8, 2010

Lay Off the Layoffs

Anonymously contributed by a contributor who dropped this article as a comment in the
post "Is Lab renting space?".
I dont see the link to the topic; was going to delete it but decided it was interesting enough to turn into a new post (Hey contributor, use the new topic section, next time)

=== Lay Off the Layoffs (Newsweek, Feb 5) ===

Our over-reliance on downsizing is killing workers, the economy — and even the bottom line.

On Sept. 12, 2001, there were no commercial flights in the United States. It was uncertain when airlines would be permitted to start flying again—or how many customers would be on them. Airlines faced not only the tragedy of 9/11 but the fact that economy was entering a recession. So almost immediately, all the U.S. airlines, save one, did what so many U.S. corporations are particularly skilled at doing: they began announcing tens of thousandANyns of layoffs. Today the one airline that didn't cut staff, Southwest, still has never had an involuntary layoff in its almost 40-year history. It's now the largest domestic U.S. airline and has a market capitalization bigger than all its domestic competitors combined. As its former head of human resources once told me: "If people are your most important assets, why would you get rid of them?"

...Anyone who's suffered a layoff or watched a loved one lose a job can understand why downsizees exhibit increased rates of alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse, and depression. In economic terms, we should think of these as "externalities," just like air and water pollution, since many of the costs of these behaviors and ailments are borne by the larger society.

Despite all the research suggesting downsizing hurts companies, managers everywhere continue to do it. That raises an obvious question: why? Part of the answer lies in the immense pressure corporate leaders feel—from the media, from analysts, from peers—to follow the crowd no matter what. When SAS Institute, the $2 billion software company, considered going public about a decade ago, its potential underwriter told the company to do things that would make it look more like other software companies: pay sales people on commission, offer stock options, and cut back on the lavish benefits that landed SAS at No. 1 on Fortune's annual Best Places to Work list. (SAS stayed private.) It's an example of how managerial behavior can be contagious, spreading like the flu across companies. One study of downsizing over a 15-year period found a strong "adoption effect"—companies copied the behavior of other firms to which they had social ties.


Something to think about, esp. considering the previous LLNS layoffs and possible future layoffs to come.

And with which company do both LLNS and LANS have strong "social ties" to spread the "contagion" which Newsweek speaks of?

I guess in the case of LLNL and LANL that contagion would most likely be coming from Bechtel.


Anonymous said...

As its former head of human resources once told me: "If people are your most important assets, why would you get rid of them?" (Newsweek)

Love that quote! At the NNSA labs, many of the scientists are now seen as a nuisance rather than an asset since the LLCs partners took over the management.

Anonymous said...

As a society we are mostly concerned about financial numbers now. I'm not even sure how to change that.

Anonymous said...

If LLNL was an airline company like Southwest... would cost $100 million for a single ticket, the plane would be 10 years late in getting to the gate, you would fill out 1000 pages of paperwork to book the flight, and there would be over 100 pilots and only 1 paying passenger on board the flight when it finally left.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the humor! The analogy is appropriate. You forgot that the 100 pilots must meet a dozen times to confirm flight itinerary, duration, FAA-mandated reviews, governance issues, flight review boards etc...
and the deputy pilots?

Anonymous said...

IAP World Services to layoff a lot of people in Aug 2010.


Click here to see California EDD WARN notices.


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