An Informal Poll, Appropriate to the Times

A friend (who wants to win an argument) has requested that I put a question to you, dear readers.

What would you think of an employer who, when laying you off, tells you on a Friday and asks you to leave at the end of the day (you are permitted to come back on Saturday to get your things and send an email to the rest of the company saying "bye")? Is this insulting, insinuating that you are not trustworthy? Or is this considerate, saving you from awkward goodbyes? Does getting a severance package affect the "feel" of the dismissal? Is there a better way to do it?

Your input is appreciated and no, I won't tell you which side was mine. (To be honest, I can see both sides, though one side was my natural inclination and immediate reaction.)


Max Cutrell said...

as someone who's had this happened to them, i understand the feeling of not being trusted. I didn't even get a chance to come back or say bye, just get things and go on friday during lunch when everyone is gone. The experience is EXTREMELY impersonal. That being said, I think that companies are well within reason to do quiet and discrete layoffs/firings. They have to treat everyone as someone who is capable of being vindictive and selfish. That means, the fired/laid off person could disrupt work significantly with fits of anger, grief and panic. They can also try to steal information, intellectual property from the company to "get back" at them for being fired/laid off. By being discrete you also minimize the humility on said fired/laid off person. One can feel very embarrassed and ashamed when it happens and if you maximize discretion, it can be very respectful. Bottom line, there is NO best/good/right way to fire someone or lay them off. everyone reacts differently and it's an uncomfortable situation for all.

MWT said...


I'd say that if you're going to try to get rid of someone as quickly and quietly as possible, you should NOT do it immediately after the annual Open House, during which they put a lot of visible time and effort into volunteer work to make it a success. That's seriously mean to them and it doesn't make you look good to the other employees.

Other than that, I have no idea. :(

Janiece said...

Since I work in Telecom, the Queen of FMP's, my opinion is that it depends.

Because I work in a large company, employees who are FMP'd frequently are invited to look for another job on the company payroll that meets their qualifications. Typically, their coaches help them find a place to "land." In cases like this, telling the person to never darken your doorstep again is clearly wrong.

However, when someone is either discharged for cause or takes a position with a competitor and so quits, they are actually escorted form the building under the supervision of a coach. I'm not sure what they think this will accomplish, since it's common knowledge.

For a smaller company, I think I would prefer to just head for the hills without having to deal with everyone's discomfort at my termination or FMP. Those with whom I work that I consider friends will contact me at my home, and I wouldn't really care about anyone else.

And yes, a severance package makes a huge difference.

Nathan said...

I don't have an opinion that counts. In my work, everyone is temporary. I will say that whenever I fire someone, I try do it at the end of the day in a "Hey, this just isn't working out" kind of way.

Once, however, it was of the screaming in front of everyone, "Get the fuck off my set and don't put this job on your resume' if you've got any fucking brains at all" kind of way.

::apologies if this is an F-bomb free zone. It's so hard to remember sometimes.::

Anne C. said...

Totally fine, Nathan. :)

Random Michelle K said...

Well, it depends.

If the firing/lay off was completely unexpected, then I think the company is right to be fearful of vengeful repercussions--from anyone.

I look at it from a tech point of view. A vengeful employee can wreak a LOT of havoc, especially if they have knowledge of the systems. Better to be safe and treat all fired employees as a threat, than to be nice and regret your actions when the servers explode or everyone's e-mail accounts have been deleted.

Jeri said...

1. I've had it happen to me. It was totally stressful, even devastating - but I have to admit I would have been completely unconstructive in the days following and it was probably a good choice for me and for the company.

2. I've had to do it to others. I'm also in telecom - and in IT - and my staff all have levels of access that *require* immediate departure, once the notification is done. During our big layoff we had an intricate IT support plan in place to notify the employee, turn down all IT accesses within minutes, and in some cases supervise packing and escort the employee from the premises, if the role was highly secure or the employee volatile.

It's not so much a matter of respect, it's risk management.

I'm sorry for your friend though - no matter how it's hired, it's super tough to go through.

vince said...

Being laid off sucks, no matter how it's done. If it's truly a layoff situation and not firing for cause, I think there should be notice. It's only fair to the people that are being downsized. And getting a severance package does cushion the blow.

Ilya said...

Not much to add what was said before. It's risk management, first and foremost, as Jeri said. It's also a common-sense estimation that an unexpectedly laid off resource cannot add anything positive to the organization. [S]he can, however, be a continuous downer to the morale of remaining associates.

I wouldn't do it any other way, to be honest, and I've done quite a few in my career.

Conversely, I've never been on the other side of the equation, but I suppose I would certainly prefer to be immediately out of the environment that no longer needs me. In a corporate world, they normally pay through the "notice period" before any additional severance comes in. Using that period for unhindered job search is a lot more productive personally than coming to the office for the last few days.

Mummy Grabill said...

Well I have to add my two cents since I'm an HR person. What everyone else said is perfectly correct. The company, unfortunately, as to protect itself from a potentially harmful situation by asking employees to leave immediately. For all the reasons people have already mentioned.

With mass layoffs, as my former company just experienced last week, a majority of the individuals are asked to leave immediately, but it is often the case for individuals of certain levels or certain roles in the company to be asked to stay for a transition period (a few months lets say)- usually they are offered a retention bonus in that situation because it is difficult to work anywhere when you know they are not keeping you. My former company was also very good about supplying assistance to find another job (be it in the company or outside the company) in these mass layoff situations.

All that being said - it's still a very difficult situation for all involved. And it doesn't only happen with layoffs! When my hubby resigned from his role in the IT group at the State he was asked to leave immediately, even though he was the one who resigned (they paid him two weeks in lieu of notice of course). It was because they knew he was unhappy, he had access to valuable data, and they couldn't as an organization take the risk that he would do something crazy - regardless of the fact that Brian has great integrity and would never do something like that. It's the reality of the situation and not something that *should* be taken personally (even though it makes you feel like crap). It feels weird, but is the smart thing to do all around.