Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open.
I am a big fan of your work on risk communication and have been following it for years. I am currently researching best practice for communicating job layoffs, and wondered if you would apply your models to communicating bad news about jobs.
For example, would this comment hold true in a job crisis? More often than not, they are already pondering what might go wrong, imagining the worst and wishing there were some way to get it out onto the table and get the facts. I would think that employees would be expecting layoffs. Speculating about when and who is a big part of the rumor mill in an organization, and people would rather know than constantly live in fear about what might happen.
So I think not telling them is very unproductive, and in our current economic climate irresponsible. Most companies tend to keep their employees in the dark.
Publicly listed companies have of course a regulatory framework to consider, but your risk communication model is an interesting one to contemplate. They mostly knew or sensed that a downsizing was on the way, and the event itself is like the other shoe dropping.
Would it be kinder — and better business — for employers to be candid? In the current economic climate, a very high percentage of employed people fear for their jobs.
This is a huge drain on morale and productivity — and a significant threat to workplace safety as well. It also inhibits consumption and damages the economy, as millions pull back on spending in anticipation of possible joblessness to come.
The widespread expectation of joblessness is thus a self-fulfilling prophesy. Here are the four groups: These employees are experiencing completely unnecessary anxiety, with all its impacts on morale, productivity, safety, consumption, and quality of life.
If it were the norm for companies to level about their labor plans, these employees would enjoy a reprieve.
The risk would be knowable, explicit, confirmed. But when the layoffs come, they will be taken by surprise, logistically and emotionally. If their employer bothered to say so explicitly, it would simply confirm what they already believe.
Bottom line of this audience segmentation: Most employees are better off knowing whether layoffs are in the offing or not. No employees are worse off knowing. I understand that candor may have some downsides for an employer. And perhaps employees who knew that layoffs were coming rather than just fearing that layoffs might be coming would perform less well; they might focus on job-hunting, or take sick days, or even engage in a little pilfering or sabotage.
There are some ways in which it might be better for the employer to let the layoffs come as a shock: But at least in risk communication terms, candor about the prospect of layoffs is good strategy. Based on this distinction, I categorize risk communication into three tasks: The risk is both high-hazard and high-outrage; people are rightly upset about a genuinely serious risk.
Losing your job is a crisis. For that matter, knowing or suspecting that others in your organization are likely to lose their jobs is also a crisis, even if you are confident of keeping yours. Layoff survivors suffer from survivor guilt; they must endure the disruption of the layoff itself and the pressure once the layoff is over to do more with less; they lose friends and acquaintances; they have reason to worry about the possibility of another layoff down the road.THE SPIKE.
It was late-afternoon. Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open. We were too tired to talk much. The important thing to remember when writing an essay outline is that the structure of an outline may vary depending on the length or complexity of the subject you are writing about.
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