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Downsizing is one of the most frequently used business strategies for reducing costs, returning firms to profit or for restructuring businesses following takeovers, mergers and acquisitions. Downsizing measures are also set to become much more prevalent in the public sector as governments seek to restrict levels of public spending. This book is one of the first to provide a thorough study of downsizing from a global perspective. It examines the phenomenon in its entirety, exploring how it is initiated and what the process of downsizing looks like. It also looks at the effects of downsizing at a number of different levels, from the individual (e.g., motivational effects, effects on health and stress levels) to the organizational (e.g., financial outcomes, reputational and productivity outcomes). Written by an international team of experts, the book provides a comprehensive overview of downsizing that examines both the strategic and human implications of this process.
Too many managers and scholars alike may overlook post-downsizing. There are important considerations in the aftermath of a downsizing event, some of which very much need to be anticipated as the downsizing process begins. These considerations include:
effects on the organization,
outcome goals (e.g., surviving versus revitalizing), and
effects on individuals.
A key question here is: what are the impacts a downsizing climate has on people and their relationship to work? The primary concern of this chapter is the human side of the business and the effects of downsizing on individuals. There are five groups of individuals that are impacted by the downsizing process. These are:
employees and managers who are downsized and lose their positions as a result (primary casualties);
employees who survive the downsizing and remain within the organization (secondary casualties but survivors);
managers who orchestrate and execute the downsizing event (secondary casualties but survivors);
spouses, family members, and loved ones who have personal, intimate relationships with those who are let go in the downsizing process as well as those employees and managers who remain (secondary casualties);
external spectators, care givers, and community members who are witness to the downsizing event and may either have direct or indirect contact with any or all of the above-mentioned groups (tertiary casualties).
According to the American Institute of Stress, work stress may well have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other industrialized nations. Therefore, work stress clearly qualifies as a significant organizational challenge for workers, for their leaders, and for their executives. No one is immune in the twenty-first century workplace. While this both chronic and epidemic problem is a true human dilemma for everyone in organizations, it is just that: a problem. As such, it has one or more solutions. We aim to offer a set of solutions for the human dilemmas that proceed from the challenge created by work stress with the intention to enhance the well-being of workers. The best practice solutions offered in this chapter are based on sound theory and research, on the one hand, and practical relevance and applicability on the other. We address seven best practice areas: supervisory support and executive stress management; job design, scheduling and work flow; communication pathways and information modes; work and family; positive stress (eustress); fairness and organizational justice and HRM systems integrity. We conclude with an emphasis on the human side of the enterprise and the critical importance of humane leadership in highly stressful workplaces.
“You can't let a corporation turn into a labor camp.”
Lee Iacocca, from Iacocca
While we are living longer, we may be suffering more. This has been called the Age of Anxiety based in part on a one standard deviation increase in anxiety levels within the US population during the period 1952–1993.
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