Your Company and Layoffs - A Winning Combination!!!

Are your company’s profits not growing as fast as they used to? Are shareholders getting upset? Well, why not consider layoffs?

This handy, easy-to-follow tutorial, courtesy of YouTube answers burning questions such as:

  • Are layoffs ethical?
  • "Corporat-ese," confusing euphemisms and other obfuscations that increase the comfort of executives delivering the bad news, all they while enabling them to actually not tell employees anything.

  • What to do about messy situations, like the employee scheduled for life-saving open-heart surgery next month, but who has now lost his health insurance because the company laid him off?

  • FREE outplacement advice often offered to soon-to-be-ex-employees.

  • When should companies give laid-off employees more than 5 minutes to clean out their offices?

  • And what about those company staplers?

In the "Isn't-That-Sort-Of-Obvious?" category: Getting Hired, Never a Picnic, is Increasingly a Trial, the NYT reports

The trend of employers putting potential employees through a battery of interviews has intensified in the tough economic climate, The New York Times reports in today's edition in a story that talks about job seekers enduring five, six or seven interviews.

"But even if there are substantive reasons for companies to take so long to decide, many job hunters ask why so many employers interview them once, twice or more — and then never get back in touch. And for that question, no one had a good answer."

Alas, I don't have much insight into what leads to this behavior on the part of prospective employees, but for insight into what it feels like to be on the receiving end of this - and worse - behavior, please check out an article I wrote for the Chicago Tribune's business section.

Even during times of lower unemployment, things aren't always better, as The Wall Street Journal's Joann Lublin reported in this article, in which she quoted me and other mistreated job seekers who demanded "equal time" in the newspaper's pages after an article she wrote about misbehaving job candidates.

Being "THE MAN" has its benefits, but being healthier isn't necessarily one of them

Inadvertently "Stickin' It to the Man"?

At many companies, executive-level employees enjoy a special health plan that covers 100% of their health care expenses. This can include all co-pays, Lasik surgery, every aspect of Junior's braces, physician-prescribed stays at fat farms and travel and accommodations to see out-of-town medical specialists. This same privilege isn't normally extended to rank-and-file employees, who pay standard co-pays and at least some percentage of the total cost of their health care.

But working stiffs can take heart: THE MAN in the corner office may appear tan, rested and ready to lop the heads of another 10% of the company's workforce, but new research by the University of Toronto shows that he is more likely to be plagued by psychological and physical problems that can offset any health benefits that you would assume result from that "highly compensated" job and its matching Lamborghini health plan.

The study, which involved 1,800 American workers from a variety of occupations and industries, found that those in positions of authority report:

  • Significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others;

  • Are more likely to experience conflicts between work and family life; and

  • Are at increased risk for psychological distress, anger and poor health.
People with "job authority" were defined as those who direct or manage the work of others, or can hire or fire other employees.

The study's findings go to the heart of a seeming paradox in research about job stress: although people in higher status positions enjoy benefits that should translate to better health, they're usually not much healthier than workers without the perks.

"Unfortunately, there are also downsides to job authority that undermine or offset the upsides of having power at work," said the study's lead author, University of Toronto Sociology Professor Scott Schieman. "In most cases, the health costs negate the benefits."

(Not that it's all that relevant to this post, but if you want a laugh and insight into the image at the top of this post, check out the classic Sprint commercial from early 2001, "Dawn of a New Era," when blogs were as new and revolutionary as Twitter was last year.)

Study finds worrying about job security may be more damaging than losing a job

Recently released findings of a longitudinal study that asked the same group of workers about their job security fears between 1986 and 1989, and then again between 1995 and 2005, has found that employees' fears of losing their jobs have grown dramatically.

But perhaps a more significant and surprising finding: constantly worrying about unemployment may be more damaging to a worker's health than actually losing a job. "In fact, chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension in one of the groups we studied," said University of Michigan sociologist Sarah Burgard, with the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and co-author of the study.

"It may seem surprising that chronic high job-insecurity is more strongly linked with health declines than actual job loss or unemployment," Burgard said. "But there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Ongoing ambiguity about the future, inability to take action unless the feared event actually happens, and the lack of institutionalized supports associated with perceived insecurity are among them."

Given all that's at stake, these feelings are predictable, she added. "When you consider that not only income, but ... many important benefits that give Americans piece of mind - including health insurance and retirement benefits - are [often] tied to employment, it's understandable that persistent job insecurity is so stressful," Burgard said.

Organizations need to learn more about workplace conditions, activities or behaviors that cause these problems, and then intervene to decrease employees' perceptions of insecurity, she recommended.

"Certainly job insecurity is nothing new, but the numbers [of people] experiencing persistent job insecurity could be considerably higher during this global recession, so these findings could apply much more broadly today than they did even a few years ago," Burgard added.

The NYT pontificates on how good candidates can clear the HR hurdle

The New York Times today offers so-so advice on how to get around the HR gatekeeper and get to the hiring manager when seeking a job for which you're not PERFECTLY qualified.

Most relevant passage:

If your only relationship with the company is electronic, via a job board or a posting, your chances are not good. H.R. people confronting hundreds of faceless online applications have one main goal: to weed out as many people as they can.
“The employer is not expected to be creative or flexible or see the opportunity in you that you think you might have” when the relationship is purely electronic, said Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco North America, the staffing firm. She considers that to be an “unrealistic expectation on the part of the job seeker.”
But if you can establish personal contact with someone on the inside, you may be able to make your case. It’s tiresome to have to repeat this, and a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but it comes down to networking. Job seekers who don’t fit all the requirements “need to go around the gatekeeper; they need to find another door,” said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management firm in New York. If you are introduced to a hiring manager by someone you know, there is more trust, and suddenly “things aren’t as important as they appeared to be on that job spec,” she said.