Let My People Go!

We have seen the word “layoff” used during a reduction in force. A reduction in force is a mass firing, often engendered by management ineptitude but sometimes driven by market forces. A layoff occurs when we temporarily dismiss an employee, but we provide preferential treatment for them when the market bounces back. Even with the preferential treatment, a layoff can be brutal. Unfortunately, it is not the correct synonym for a reduction in force, which is clearly a permanent or quasi-permanent discharge of individuals who “don’t make the cut.” In some cases, we have seen individuals who were disliked but otherwise competent fired for their attitude.

We have also heard other euphemistic terms such as “let them go” or “release them,” as if we providing some element of liberation. Sometimes, moving on will work for an employee, although the disaffiliation is not immediately perceived to be positive.

We recommend dropping the softer words and calling firing what is is:

  • Canning
  • Axing
  • Sacking
  • Disposing

Perhaps “dismissal” provides the best combination of softness and brutality.

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