In 2002, when there were lay-offs at my company, our CEO held a meeting as soon as he got back from the big corporate meeting, letting us know that there were going to have to be staff reductions. We were told, over the next few days, who had been cut. I was one of them.
It was not a happy time, but we were treated like adults.
This week, I got laid off again by the same company, and the experience shows how the company has changed.
At 2:05pm, I was told I needed to be in a meeting at 2:30. My boss was very uncommunicative about it, and couldn't bring himself to look at me directly. I wondered if it might be a lay-off. The new company CEO had gone out of town suddenly a few days before, and the head of our IT department had queried me about where the info was as to how to change the door-codes and locks.
The moment I saw that the meeting was myself, my boss, the CEO and our HR manager, I knew it was a lay-off.
They were distant and polite. I was told that while I was there with them, I was being locked out of my computer.
They were at pains to tell me that this was required of them, that everyone who was leaving had to be treated the same. I know there have been cases of people doing what they can to hurt the company they're leaving, but it did bother me. I would think, after more than 15 years of knowing me, that they'd know I wouldn't do any such thing, and the argument that they couldn't make any exceptions is one I've always hated.
Every time someone won't trust their judgment, but hides behind some rules like a good German, they give up some of their humanity. But I have to acknowledge it's probably a majority opinion these days that everyone should be treated the same, and I'm just the crank who disagrees.
They'd prepared a stack of boxes so that I could pack up my desk and leave. They didn't want me to mention what was going on, which struck me a bit silly--wouldn't it be pretty obvious when I went and packed my stuff?
We talked a little about health coverage, severance and the like, and they gave me a folder of stuff to set me on the path to a life away from them.