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Serial sackers warned

Serial sackers warned

Businesses that try to improve the bottom line by cutting staff may be underestimating the damage they do to the morale and performance of those who remain.

Not only do organisations risk permanent, possibly fatal, damage to themselves, they may be providing a competitor with a better pool of workers.

Massey University human resource management lecturer Dr Keith Macky says the psychological effects on workers of so-called downsizing are often far greater than many managers realise. Based on a study of 2000 urban dwellers from throughout New Zealand, Dr Macky has found that the negative impact of redundancies on staff that stay may be long-term or even permanent.

“ Survivors are left to cope in an employer-employee relationship that has changed forever,” he says.

They are less clear about their own role and feel they have lost control and may suffer stress as a consequence of that or from an increased workload. Organisations that are “serial downsizers” risk compounding the downhill spiral in job satisfaction, putting the viability of the business at risk.

A company could put itself in a situation where not only has it not achieved the productivity gains or cost-savings it envisaged but the very people it wanted to retain are either not performing as well as previously because of their response to the changes or are considering leaving to find another job.

By comparison, those made redundant often end up with a more positive work attitude once they have found a new job.

Strategies to minimise the damage include providing a sound basis for any staff cuts at the time and providing solid support both for those leaving and those who remain.

Dr Macky is in the Department of Management and International Business on the Albany campus


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