Femi was the first to resume at work on Monday as he has always done for over a year now. From 7am till 7pm he worked like a robot non stop. It is a torrid job but one that he has now gotten used to. Several staff of the month awards had also followed, providing him with the right cushion to bear the stress. And so when he turned on his computer that faithful Monday morning and couldn’t log on to his profile, it never occurred to him that he has just been rendered jobless.
A lot of Nigerians have fallen victim of corporate downsizing and mass sackings in large corporations and financial institutions across the country. Many who have fallen victim often do not understand the criteria used, as employees who have had unblemished records often fall victim also. We spoke to HR practitioners who have at one time or the other been involved in corporate downsizing. They inform us of a series of criteria that companies use to determine who stays or who goes.
LIFO – LIFO is an acronym for Last In First Out and is a frequently used mode of sacking. Here the most recent employee in a unit, department or office will be fired should there be a need to put names forward. It doesn’t actually matter if the employee was a performer or was just recently hired for a recent job position. Joan, an employee of a popular Car Sales Shop in Lagos, inform Nairametrics that she got fired three months after being employed. She was told that the company was going through some financial stress and was purely a victim of LIFO.
FIFO – This is an acronym for First In First Out and is the opposite of LIFO. Here employees who are already close to retiring are put forward for corporate downsizing. For example, employees with months or a few years to retire are fast tracked and asked to leave. The FIFO approach is not as common as LIFO but is used by some organisations as well.
Disciplinary Issues – Here employees who have been queried or found wanting in the past are put forward for consideration in the event of a mass sack. Managers who have been mandated to use this criteria call for the files of employees in their Units and then start to look for who has had the most disciplinary issues. For example, staff on single or final warnings will most likely be asked to leave compared to those who have only been queried. An employee of a commercial bank who wished to remain anonymous informed us that she was served a warning letter because she will not sleep with her boss. Eventually when the company was downsizing she got affected.
Appraisal – Companies also rely on results of periodic appraisals in deciding whether an employee or employees should be recommended for a sack. Appraisals involve reviewing an employee’s performance against key performance indicators during a review period. Those who perform below their peers are often singled out for sack. Eddie (not real name) informed Nairametrics that he was told to leave after he came last during a general appraisal conducted in his unit. Prior to that he had met his KPI’s only to be asked to leave after he supposedly came last in a new round of appraisals specifically conducted for the purpose of looking for who to go.
Redundancy – Organisations also decide who gets sacked or not by weeding our redundant roles or departments. For organisations that are not just looking to downsize but are also restructuring, redundancy methods are a common feature. For example, multiple roles and job functions can be collapsed thus churning out redundant positions making it easier to sack. This method is often easier for organisations as it doesn’t target specific individuals but roles. Another victim interviewed by Nairametrics said he was told that his role in a leading foreign airline was made redundant after the company closed and outsourced its call center.
Set criteria – There are also instances where certain criteria such as age, qualification and experience are used as a basis for mass sack. Department heads can make decisions on who to sack if victimes fall short against their peers in terms of qualifications and experience. HR practitioners inform Nairametrics that this criteria was perhaps a major factor in the increase of spate of Nigerians going abroad for higher degrees.
Random selection – This is perhaps the worst method and is used mostly in cases where a large percentage of employees are required to leave. Here employees scheduled for sack are hand-picked regardless of their commitment, work ethics or value. Department heads are simply instructed to recommend a number of people for sack regardless of their performance. It typically happens in organisations that are facing major financial difficulties. A lot of oil servicing companies were said to have used random selection in sacking thousands of employees this year as price of oil crashed and oil majors cut down budgets.
Femi got to know later that he was a victim of Random Selection. His boss had a choice to make between him and another staff who was married and had a family to feed. Being single meant Femi was an easier target.