Layoffs have become a way of life in our economy. The business environment ranges from stagnant to awful, while troubled companies head towards a merger partner or, worse, bankruptcy court. The healthier companies remain under tremendous pressure to boost earnings.
Given the scope of restructurings, the proverbial ax can fall on anyone, regardless of credentials or accomplishments. Since we are an achievement-oriented society, the newly unemployed react with shock or disbelief. Human resources expert Suzanne Lucas (CBS Moneywatch) addresses the plaintive question ”Why Was I Laid Off Instead of My Co-Worker?”, and the survival skills needed to cope with the pain of job loss and move on.
The trauma is particularly acute as the terminations move up the rungs of the management ladder, given the difficulty of finding equivalent employment in a depressed market. The new normal does get easier to accept once one understands that today’s layoffs are driven more by the need to shed costs quickly than by conventional performance measures. She notes:
But, most likely, they are trying to save money and maximize productivity and hurt as few people as possible. If they cut a lower paid person’s job then they’d have to find another area to make up the difference, which could mean two jobs eliminated instead of just one, for instance.
America is likely to struggle with high unemployment rates and an unstable job market for the foreseeable future. Now that the election is over, perhaps the nation’s leaders will focus their attention on the structural factors that are making this period in our economic history so stressful.