Analysis: Employers who help fired employees get new jobs – is it an empty gesture?

Analysis: Employers who help fired employees get new jobs – is it an empty gesture?

A resume uploaded by the firing employer is arguably going to catch more eyeballs than the one uploaded by the employee himself or herself

S MurlidharanUpdated: Friday, January 19, 2024, 02:08 AM IST
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Representative Image | Pixabay

Hiring and firing are the two sides of the employment coin in the USA. Which is why except perhaps in government employment, employees in general do not lose sleep over switching jobs with nonchalance. Serial CEOs is the phenomenon in the USA where even honchos become CEOs of five or more companies in their relatively short employment career before donning the robes of benevolent angel investors or part of the private equity firms. The short point is both employers and employees in the US do not wear loyalty and lifetime employment on their sleeves. The idea of loyalty and lifetime employment is uniquely Japanese. US companies are so CEO-driven and -obsessed that not only do the CEOs take a disproportionate share of the salary pie but also instigate visceral changes in the staff by firing the existing ones and bringing in their own favorites. Be that as it may.

US employers of late have generally thought better of leaving the fired employees to fend for themselves by “uploading” the resume of the fired employee with evident — albeit tacit — approval of his capabilities and skill. This may smack of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds but deep down it is an attempt to acquire a human face on the part of heartless capitalists.

Some of the fired employees, confident of finding another job sooner rather than later, may even go the extent of stopping the patronising or condescending employer from wearing the garb of self-anointed rehabilitators, especially given the fact there is no stigma attached to being fired except when it is due to fraud or some financial misdemeanour. After all, no employer has the divine right to unilaterally decide to rehabilitate, as it were, the employee he has fired. But such uploading cannot be resented by the employees fired. In fact, it might even do a power of good to their future as the potential new employer is not going to be negatively predisposed towards them as the implicit thumbs up to their capabilities by the firing employer isn’t anything to scoff at. Furthermore, the evident thumbs-up or approval of the fired employee by the employer is going to help and expedite his cause and certainly not going to harm it. Yet, some prickly fired employees may not like the patronising act of unsolicited rehabilitation.

And there is also the eyeballs factor. A resume uploaded by the firing employer is arguably going to catch more eyeballs than the one uploaded by the employee himself or herself, given the fact employers are by and large perceived to be Goliaths and employees the poor Davids. Let us contextualise it in the Indian context albeit hypothetically given the fact this development in the US has not caught on in India though it would most certainly in due course catch on as experience shows Indian corporates are quick to latch onto American practices, good, bad or indifferent. Suppose, Infosys fires a large number of employees and uploads the resumes of 50% of those having the mortification of being fired, such employees may breathe easy and take comfort from the fact that Wipro or TCS might take notice and reach out to them. At higher levels, headhunters too may lap up such uploaded resumes because poaching too involves effort and uploaded resumes are manna from heaven for them.

What exactly then is the true motivation for the seemingly humanitarian gesture on the part of the firing employers? To be sure, it makes parting a little less painful but at the same time the market is bound to sit up and take notice if the firing employer is a listed company. For, it is bound to wonder if the company is in trouble. Bears make a meal out of any hint of trouble. So, in a way what the firing companies do is a bit of self-flagellation bordering on digging their own graves. Be that as it may.

Of course, if the entire sector is in trouble due to geo-economic situation or otherwise, it does not matter much as rehabilitation within the same sector is well nigh impossible but if the poor showing is not universal across the sector but company-specific, the company may unwittingly be inviting unnecessary attention much to its detriment. Competitors are bound to join the party and make things difficult for the beleaguered company. Not that the grapevine is not going to get wind of the state of affairs of the company in dire straits but admitting it oneself is a different thing.

Listed companies are more keenly watched both by the competition and the investors and market operators. So, uploaded resumes or not the firing company’s difficulties would in any case be a subject of salacious and malicious market gossip. And BTW if the fired employees are sitting on an egg nest in the form of shares under the Employees’ Stock Options Scheme (ESOP) with vesting period some distance away, there is going to be a double whammy for them — loss of job for the nonce and along with it loss of shares that could have given them handsome capital gains.

Net net, the uploading of resumes may at the end of the day turn out to be a cosmetic or empty gesture, one that is superficial in terms of empathy for the fired employees.

S Murlidharan is a freelance columnist and writes on economics, business, legal and taxation issues

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