UNEMPLOYMENT / OCT. 10, 2014
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Top 10 Weirdest Words Ever Used for Layoffs

The economic nose dive has left your company struggling financially; it is no wonder then that rumours are floating around the office that management will soon downsize and slash jobs. It’s not easy to hear that you’ve been sacked, nor is it easy for most managers to announce the bad news. However, employers try to be diplomatic and tactful, using witty and creative ways to show someone the door, in order not to insult or offend an employee. Explore the 10 most creative euphemisms ever used for sacking people, as stated by respondents in a Quora thread.

#1 Tracey Bryan, a law student and aspiring full-time philanthropist wrote that one of her dad’s friends said to a guy: “I don’t know how this office would run without you! But as of Monday, I’m going to find out”.

#2 Bill Petro, a technologist, historian, writer and speaker, referred to the following euphemism: "Invited to be successful elsewhere."

#3 Richard Brasser, CEO, social media strategist and architect wrote about an especially insensitive line used periodically by a business owner he knows: “I had to shoot another hostage today. The team was getting a little complacent”.

#4 John Bagnall, a wordsmith and a former EMI Records employee, will never forget the moment his employer told him: “We’ve decided your outlook and talents are ideally suited to the freelance sector’’.

#5 Some managers, try to soften employees’ rage by avoiding the dreaded “downsize” and using “rightsized” instead. Robert Rapplean, a software engineer and roboticist says that this is “a way of avoiding saying ‘downsizing.’ When managers would hold onto their jobs by laying off all of the actual workers, we would call that ‘capsizing’.”

#6 A friend of Lorna Hughes’ “was told she’d been let go because the company was being ’smartsized’”. According to her, “not only are they firing you but they’re telling you they’re smart to do so”.

#7 Richard Careaga, reports that when his company was acquired by a bigger player, he first “synergised” and then “graduated”. “It was one of those all of a sudden things where me and my 50,000 buddies were swallowed up by our new 250,000 friends,” he wrote. “In an organisation that big all you can hope to control (at least temporarily) is headcount and for the most part the guys at former [headquarters] were a bucket of unsorted spare parts to unneeded machinery. Still, it stung”.

#8 When managers are not sure what to say when announcing a layoff, they resort to corporate jargon. Andy Micone’s favourite was “was ‘realigning our resources to our corporate strategy.’ That’s right, they told people that they ‘weren’t being laid off’ but were simply ‘no longer in alignment.’  If you felt like a cog in a corporate machine yesterday...”

#9 George Andre, said he has heard a fair amount of complex euphemisms such as "recycling our creative pool,” “maximising our throughput by streamlining our workforce” and “rethinking our future”.

#10 At one Fortune 500 firm, a manager used to walk up to people “seemingly at random and say ‘You doing anything this afternoon? I have some stuff I want to chat with you about. Let’s go take a walk around the duck pond,” Micone wrote. “We noticed people leaving to go for a walk with this manager would never return. Soon the catch-phrase for layoffs … was ‘a walk around the duck pond”.

What’s the worst thing you’ve been told when you’ve been let go? Have your say in the comments section below.

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