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FORBES: Tips for Execs to Prevent Disgruntled Worker Backlash

By Lauren Weber
Featuring Dave Bowman, Human Resource Expert

NEW YORK, Sept 30 2002 (Reuters) - Layoffs are traumatic in the best of times, and they can feel even worse in a recession when replacement jobs are scarce.

But there are ways for managers to keep employees' frustration from escalating into full-scale violence, say two experts.

Communicate. Avaya Inc. , a communications equipment maker in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, sends out a biweekly newsletter to employees with company updates. So by the time Avaya announced 2,500 job cuts in July, "everyone was well aware of the financial position of the company," Marene Allison, Avaya's director of global securtiy, said. "People knew this was coming."

Be prepared. Don't set up an "us-vs-them" attitude. Let employees know the company's security department exists to protect them, and not just to keep workers away from top brass. "Security departments should be advocates of the employee," Allison said. This is particularly so after Sept. 11, she added.

Provide concrete assistance. A decent severance and benefits continuation package should be offered, along with job-search assistance, said David Bowman, a human resources expert and author of the audiotape series "Preventing Workplace Violence."

Be sensitive. If laid-off workers think "they don't care about me, that's when they start to get mad," Bowman said. "People are willing to accept change if it's done in a fair and sensitive way."

Finally, behave. Employees want top executives to set an example of good behavior. But the recent stream of CEO "perp walks" is making workers feel like they're paying the price for corporate fat cats' crimes.

Employees are sliced while executives enrich themselves, creating "enormous stress and resentment," Bowman said.

Cleaning up corporate ethics is essential to "minimize the very real potential of vendettas against those who 'did me wrong,'" Bowman wrote recently, "Otherwise, violence may become the next corporate crisis."

Dave invites you to read other inspiring articles FREE.

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    Find out more about Dave Bowman...

  • Dave's Biography
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  • Contact Dave

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