Getting the boot

Sanjeev Satgainya


Who would not like it if it were possible to produce maximum out of minimum resources? It’s the prime motto of each and every organisation that it makes maximum profit; service and consumer rights following close behind. What makes an organisation harvest profit? There are lots of aspects. These days, job cuts too are taken into account as one of the sure-shot profit-making activities. Job cuts or company lay offs threaten many. A job which once seemed to provide a lifetime of security, unfortunately could just end in a lay off. Add to this technological advancements that might result in reduction of staff. For instance, why not substitute an automated teller machine to dispense money if a bank can survive at the cost of three staff? Now we have self-checkout machines at discount stores, grocery stores and even at the library. This translates into a substantial number of jobs lost due to lay offs.

Why lay offs?

The popular buzzword for modern business is productivity, which means producing the same amount (or more) of products or services with ever fewer workers. Sudden death of career was and still is one of the basic reasons that the notion is prevalent that one should look for a career in a government organisation, rather than a private organisation. Sharmila who works in a government bank says, “There is a lifetime of security in a government organisation. Once you enter, you just don’t have to worry for about 20 years or more. When you exit, there are handsome perks, pension, etc. It not only gives a security but also provides a secure future for your next generation. This does not mean that I strongly advocate a government job but I certainly get depressed when I read and see how some people are handed over pink slips all of a sudden. I wonder how do they cope with it.” Her experiences sound true to an extent. There are instances when private organisations for several reasons have to terminate staff, which comes for employees like a bolt from the blue and some might face severe trauma. So, “Does it only happen in private organisations?” and “How to cope with lay offs?” are really big questions in today’s corporate world.

Is it traumatic?

“It depends. You cannot just generalise that job cuts happen only in private organisations. People do fear that private companies set their own rules and regulations according to which anybody can be fired at any moment, which is completely a wrong perception. Private organisations do have their own work ethics,” shares S S Dabas, executive director, Everest Bank Limited. But what about automated machines replacing humans? Dabas adds, “There is always a room for expanding the organisation. The company might think of expanding its wings, offering better services through the same employees in different departments, etc.”

Even if job cuts or lay offs are justifiable, the trauma is tremendous. Many find themselves in the middle of nowhere. Have you ever sensed that your company is going to give you a pink slip? Tulsi Pokhrel once went through such an experience. When he woke up the next day, he heard that he was no more a part of the company. “It was a bitter but rather different experience. The whole company had disintegrated and we all were just given the goodbye letters. For me, it came so suddenly that even to start searching another job took some time. I had to arrange everything — from my resume to certificates. I had to revive my network, get settled before appearing in another interview.”

Better your prospects

One should always be prepared for such situations. Automating might end your job somewhere but your potential and skill always work anywhere in the world. And even then, company lay offs are big things, which happen after a thorough brainstorming. “The companies on one hand certainly try to reap benefits, on the other hand, they too don’t want to lose their valuable employees too. As long as one is competent enough, s/he will simply grab the opportunity in no time. The fear of lay offs has much lesser traumatic consequence than it sounds,” explains Rajiv Sant, executive director, Varun Beverages Pvt Ltd.

Companies do put their employees in rotation to equip them to tackle every kind of situation. If one is skilled, experienced and adept, then one does not have to worry. Even if company stands on the brink of closure, it is better that employees should keep themselves up-to-date to tackle any challenge. What can better the situations after lay offs? Preparation is emphasised by most management motivators. Though this does not happen quite often, there might be situations when someone gets to face lay off. Dabas shares, “Instead of fearing job cuts, employees should emphasise on better job enhancement, skill development and trainings if possible. The competition no doubt is high but that does not mean that one just gets fired. Competent employees are always acknowledged everywhere.” One should not forget that there is no harm in keeping one’s resume updated regularly. If one has sensed a pink slip coming, it is better to start getting back on the network that you kept away from for a while. A formal chat just to rejuvenate the network sometimes works positively. “There is always a good demand for competitive people. If someone does not find himself/ herself competent enough to adjust to another job, one should keep on undergoing trainings, motivation classes and be prepared to face any situation,” adds Sant.