Book Me For A Speech

My Writing and Ranting

Press Room

Good Books

« Leigh Buchanan: Signs of a Bad Boss | Main | A Compilation of Euphemisms for Layoffs »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Just came across this one in a series of advertisements for investment counselors--"an employment transition"...this is for those everyone who has gone employment transition. Gackkkkkk.


I've heard someone say they had been "surplussed".

Sam Thornton

My personal favorite: "We've decided to go in another direction."

Wally Bock

They talk like that because it lets them avoid confronting the fact that they're messing with the lives of real people. Small businesses are fifty percent less likely than large ones to lay off, according to the AMA, in part, I think, because they're confronted with the people part.

More distressing than the language, for me, is other executive behavior. How many companies cut executive compensation before they start laying off?


the consulting firm I work for is called it "adjusting to shifts in demand."

Jeremiah Owyang

Corporate Outplacing.


"We need to rebalance the level of human capital...."

....Diane, Mark, and Bob lead a discussion that is very on-point.

...I love Ramachandran's contrast between what management says and what employees think (which is really what management used to say). I wonder what kind of on-going breakdown of trust this disparity creates employee and management. The perceived win by management is it gets to feel better about doing something that it feels is unsavory. This is part of the issue. There is nothing unsavory about layoff's in a capitalistic society. It is part of business...employees and management both know this. Somehow, a feeling that a lifetime contract has snuck into the equation.....perhaps by management as an encouragement to get everything out of the employee?

Bottom Line: walk like a like a man (or woman)

Kevin Rutkowski

When the Minnesota government shut down in 2005 due to a budget stalemate, all of the "non-essential" employees were laid off until the budget was approved 2 weeks later. This included most of the people employed by the state.

I thought that it would be pretty disappointing to be told that you're a "non-essential" employee.

There's a book called "We Got Fired! ...And It's the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us".

I suppose that an employee may not take it well if this was handed to them at the moment they're laid off.


I've heard this in the recent past:

"Offboarded" !!!!!

I just made this one up from the employee's perspective:

"He got the box." I like it.

I've had you as a favorite on my blog for quite awhile. Thanks for the invitation to comment.

Diane Levin

Bob, as usual a great point. But I think the problem began long ago when the corporate world began referring to the people it employs as "human resources" and then later as "human capital". These sterile phrases serve to transform the people who make up a workplace into mere commercial units, allowing those wielding power to distance themselves from the rest.

Bob Sutton


I agree completely and your post is very wise. But I do wonder if the language that some leaders use -- which often dehumanizes those people who lost jobs -- makes it easier for them to do the deed, rather than to follow your good advice,


Mike Myatt

Hi Bob:

Euphemisms aside,the bigger issue is not how to handle layoffs, but rather how to avoid them. You might be interested in a bit of a different perspective on the topic at hand which can be viewed here:

John Caddell

I like the English euphemism "made redundant"--assuming that someone is doing exactly what you're doing and therefore you are entirely superfluous. Wrong and wrong.

Ramachandran Balasubrahmaniam Mahalingam

From Management

1 - We're letting you go.
2 - We're terminating your position.
3 - Your position is redundant.

The first one lets managers feel that they are setting their employee free. The second one lets them feel that they are in control of resourcing. The third one lets them feel that they have made operations more efficient. These are all creative ways to let them lie to themselves.

In all fairness, if managers said something true like, "..and you're fired because you don't work overtime like all the others", or "...and you're fired because you are absent too often for female health issues", or "'re fired because we gotta get rid of somebody, and we felt that losing you would affect us the least", then they would open themselves up to lots of lawsuits.

From employees.

a - He was shit-canned.
b - He got whacked.
c - He got walked to the door.

Most of these reflect how employees feel after they are laid off.


The Irish bank Permanent TSB just offered its employees to take a one, two or three year leave and get a lump sum of 10,000 , 20,000 or 35,000 EUR respectively. To me this looks better than laying off-people and rehiring and retraining new people when times get better.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Asshole Survival

Scaling Up

Good Boss Bad Boss

No Asshole Rule

Hard Facts

Weird Ideas

Knowing -Doing Gap

The No Asshole Rule:Articles and Stories