Some companies are reassigning workers in a way that’s sending them mixed messages. Emails informing employees that their current job role has been eliminated, but they have not been fired, are leaving those staff members with feelings of confusion, fear and anger.
Dubbed “quiet cutting,” this latest outgrowth of the, effectively allows companies to cut jobs and trim costs without actually laying off workers.
The strategy is gaining traction as a restructuring move: Companies including Adidas, Adobe, IBM and Salesforce are among employers that have restructured its workforces in this way over the past year.
Financial research platform AlphaSense found that, over the last year, such reassignments have more than tripled.
Lower status, lower pay
“Quiet cutting” taps into workers’ fears of layoffs at their company, amid aWhile reassigned workers remain employed, the reassignments often land them in roles with titles that are less prestigious, come with lower pay, and are more demanding.
“They recounted getting a phone call or an email from a manager basically telling them your job has been reassigned and you will be doing this from now on, and basically take it or leave,” careers reporter with the Wall Street Journal, Ray Smith, who first reported on the trend, told CBS News.
According to Smith, some individuals initially felt relieved they weren’t being axed.
“But on the other side, they were angry or confused, and they felt the new job they had was either lower status or lower pay or more responsibilities, or something that they didn’t even have experience in,” Smith said. “And so they were really angry at the companies about this.”
Smith spoke to some workers who said the backhanded demotions took a toll on their mental health.
“Their identity is tied up with their titles and the work that they do — and if you’re suddenly being told do something else, especially if it’s a demotion … it can send you spiraling and wondering, ‘What is the message that the company is sending to me?'”
Quietly cut workers also feared their employers were trying to force them into roles in which they would be so miserable, they would eventually quit, according to Smith.
“It’s sort of like pushing you into this corner and saying if you don’t take it, you have to leave,” Smith said, adding that “No company will say ‘we’re quietly cutting people.'”
“It is sort of a reduction in workforce, almost in a passive-aggressive way,” he said.
“The bottom line is, if someone who refuses a reassignment or eventually leaves after not liking the reassignment — once they leave, the company doesn’t have to pay thousands of dollars in severance costs. So it actually saves them in costs,” said Smith.