In a workshop this last week, we were hearing from the many participants who were recently “released” from their jobs. The terms for being “let go” became themselves the center of attention as we moved around the room. It seems no one just plain gets “fired” anymore in this politically correct work environment.
In 1980 a person got “fired.” By 1985 it was “laid off.” In 1990 it became “downsized.” Now a person can be “rightsized,” “ restructured,” “ reorganized,” “reengineered” or “put in the mobility pool.” I hear that many people are being freed up to “pursue other opportunities.” In this computer age, some people are being “uninstalled” and receiving their termination notices via e-mail. I’m continually amazed at the fancy words for getting people in the front door and the euphemisms for sending people out the back door continue to grow in creativity as well.
Is it surprising that morale is often low for the remaining employees who realize that their workload has tripled, their salary has remained the same, and they are the “lucky” ones to still be around after all the smart ones took the “buy-out” package and immediately got better jobs elsewhere? Now we have to redefine “lucky.”
I asked our readers to submit terms they have encountered: Here are just a few of the best:
- Released to the market place to better achieve your goals
- My husband and I work for a ministry. Last week we were told to “transfer” somewhere else. Of course they didn’t give us anywhere to go either. In other words, we don’t need you anymore after 20 years of service. The reason “It will help your spiritual growth”. Whatever that means!
- My former company used the term “impacted”. I was told that my position had been “impacted”.
- My sister was told about the poor economic conditions and the downturn in tourism. She was informed she was NOT being terminated or laid off. However, her supervisor informed her that her scheduled work hours “were being reduced to zero”. WHEW! At least she wasn’t laid off!
- My company calls it Evolving. A person is not fired, they are evolved. That means put on a new opportunity which the company thinks there is no chance of winning. Then when the contract is not won, the person has to leave because the business just was not there to support them.
- I was told they were “restructuring” and that the new “structure” did not include me. I had been downsized, but that I should take notice (like it was a good thing) it says “Reduction In Force” on my official pink slip. I guess that was their nice way of saying I was eligible for unemployment compensation.
- I tell folks I was DIVORCED from the company, because they sent me away with money and it was an end to our relationship. People seem to readily accept divorce these days.
- In the “dismissal” letter I got it was written, “due to declining enrollment and increasing expenses, we are forced to dismiss all ‘expendable’ personnel.” To me it was a slap in the face to think that the dedication and enthusiasm I had brought to this institution, as a student and employee, was ‘expendable’.
- I was told I was being “made available to the industry.”
- As a programmer/analyst for a large bank, I was invited to ‘participate in the bank’s employee-reduction initiative’ last April.
- I work for a large electronic retailer, and no one gets fired here, they just get “promoted to customer.”
James H. Kennedy, publisher of “Executive Recruiter News,” lists even more of the latest terms in use:
“Axed, canned, coerced transition, decruited, deselected, destaffed, excessed, fumigation, indefinite idling, negotiated departure, personnel surplus reduction, premature retirement, redundancy elimination, right-sized, selected out, selectively separated, vocational relocation, and workforce imbalance correction.”
Wow – I get tired just reading through all of those. If you’ve been on the receiving end of one of these terms, the only question is, what are you doing to move forward? One lady shared that in her mind she had been given the “grace of interruption.” Now there’s a term that implies peace and renewal.