Saturday, 12 March 2011

How to Communicate Cutbacks to Staff

If you can say nothing, say nothing.
If you must talk of change, change is always good.
Cutbacks, downsizing, downgrading,
rationalisation, tightening...
everything is only getting smaller, not going away.

When you talk of redundancies,
beware of ‘putting out to grass’
– or severance: a serious word bringing to mind
wealthy uncles striking names from wills –
say ‘letting people go’ instead as though
they clamoured at the very gates of freedom.

Do not refer to ‘scrap heaps’
or, indeed, to age. Call older workers
‘longer-standing staff’
not ‘past their best before’, ‘used up’, ‘worn out’
which smacks of wrinkled aunts hogging the fire,
sucking the life out of a Werthers Original
with yellow teeth. Do not acknowledge
time you kindly set aside for jobsearch
is as redundant as they are.

Smile, when you say anything. Remember tears
have no truck in the modern workplace.
Lift the ends of sentences to stress
the merits of ‘work/life balance’
(once the work’s removed).
Speak of their liberated future days
with a hint of envy in your voice.

And those remaining few?
Remind them daily how lucky they are -
The Chosen - when issues arise
around the increased workload,
spinning plates now crashing to the floor,
the longer hours, wage freeze, et cetera
– how very, very lucky they are.

© Clare Kirwan

2 March - Best Practice in Local Government HR
Clare blogs as brokenbiro and is one of the founding editors of this site. The only way to stop her posting her own poems is by submitting YOURS!