Loyalty and Layoffs

After September 11, 2001, the company I was employed at went through several phases of layoffs. I worked for a senior executive which unfortunately, made me the keeper of the cut list. One of my coworkers and good friends was on that list and I became very sad. I really cared about this person and instinctively, went to my manager and asked for my name to be added and my coworker saved. My boss thought I was a complete nutcase and informed me there were no plans for my position to be eliminated; however, in my heart I felt this was the right thing to do. I finally convinced my boss to make the switch and my friend was saved (and never knew about the situation).

Recently, after 6 years of loyal employment (including several years of working for one of the top executives) my position was eliminated. I think what hurt me the most was the fact some people that I considered my friends never even gave me a warning. While I was not a moron and knew that there was a chance I was not safe, I still thought true friends would be loyal. I accepted my fate professionally and have not spoken to those so called “friends” since the layoff occurred. I also find it amusing when I think back to the President of that company looking me in my eyes and telling me I was not losing my job. Like I mentioned in a previous post, hearing you are safe is only valid on the day you are told (tomorrow is another day).

Am I over reacting because I feel betrayed? I know for a fact if the tables were turned, I would have somehow given my friend a heads up even if I didn’t spell it out just because I wouldn’t want them to be taken off guard.

Have you been in a similar situation? If you knew your friend was going to lose his or her job, would you give them warning? Where would your loyalties lie? I’m curious to hear your opinions on this one!

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3 Thoughts to “Loyalty and Layoffs”

  1. Jane

    I have been in that situation before. I had a VERY good friend who was being laid off and like you, was the keeper of the list. I struggled with the decision and in the end, told my friend. He was very bitter and did not appreciate it. That was also one of the last times I spoke to him as he moved back to his country. Even though he did not appreciate it, I know in my heart I made the right choice. Had the tables been reversed, I would have wanted the same notification.

  2. Marie Byrd

    I have been in this situation twice. The first time I gave the friend the heads up. She didn’t appreciate it either and ratted me out and I was lectured by mgmnt. The second time around it was a family member that was being let go, and I was warned not to say a thing, and this time I listened as I knew this family member would not have appreciated the heads up either. In my current position I do once again get knowledge of the list and there are a few people I would give the heads up to, but for the most part ecspecially now a days I have learned to keep my mouth shut!

    And your comment is so true: you are only “safe” the day they say it!

  3. John

    I’m not sure that giving someone the “heads up” that they are about to be laid off is very helpful. It is, however, helpful to the company because you just did part of their job for them. You became the messenger and the bearer of bad news.

    What is helpful for the friend being laid off, however, is being there for them as a friend and helping them in whatever capacity is possible including things like writing a recommendation letter, providing them access to your network, looking out for possible positions, etc.

    I think in most cases, one is not in a position to influence the company’s business decision. However, one can certainly be an influence in helping a friend look for a new position.

    Good luck to all!

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