SURVEY SAYS – Is Your Firm Using the Recession to Clean House?

April 30, 2009 ( - As a bonus survey question this week, I asked readers if their company had used the recession as an excuse to lay off unwanted workers.

This particular question happened to be a reader suggestion (each week I asked survey respondents for their suggestions, and over time I have used a good number of those), and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

One thing I did not expect, however, was that nearly a third – 30.1% – said that their company HAD used the recession as an excuse to do some housecleaning.  

Now, having said that, nearly as many ( 26.9% ) denied any such motivations, while nearly 12% said “not that I know of.”  

Having said that, 7.5% denied being aware of the activity, but acknowledged that “some managers may have” (one reader noted, “We had a company-wide RIF and suspect that some used the opportunity to cut their unwanted.” ), while 8.6% said “not that I know of, but I have my suspicions.”  

I also asked readers if they did have workers in the category of getting laid off, what percentage of their workforce was included in that "unwanted" category.   A full 29% said it was in the 1-5% range, while 22.6% said it was less than 1%.   Just over 16% said it was as much as 5-10%, with the rest falling into the "N/A" category.

There were, of course, some interesting verbatims.   "They are using the recession for many actions they are taking currently," noted one reader.  "One of our execs used the phrase "never waste a good crisis". I assume a lot of dead wood was pruned," noted another.  "Probably, but they are also using as an excuse to globally cut pay and benefits," said another.

"In bad times, it's always a good time to reduce unwanteds," observed one respondent.   Another said, "We don't need the recession as a reason, we're having financial difficulties from a merger."

Other verbatims:

"Yes, but we also had to lay off good workers too," noted another.  

"My husband's company recently laid off 10 workers, 4 of whom they wanted to get rid of anyway and won't be called back."

"Not my current company, but my previous employer seems to have done this."

"Not that I know of, I'm still here."

But this week's Bonus Editor's Choice goes to the reader who shared, "No, but they should."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our bonus survey!