Pink-slip party

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Unemploymentis no longer a stigma thanks to the new breed of high-tech job seekers –casualties of the dot-com collapse. Professor Lisbeth Claus reports Thesedays the Silicon Valley headlines focus on lay-offs, downsizing, dot-comimplosion and economic downturn. Having successfully crossed into themuch-anticipated new millennium, the high-tech industry was not prepared atall, just a few months later, for the NASDAQ stock crisis, the rapid downturnof the new economy sector and recent implosion of many dot-com companies. Thisengendered a chain reaction in many companies that were closely connected tothe meteoric rise and success of the dot-coms. As statistics indicate, sincethe dawn of the year 2000, many new-economy knowledge staff have received theproverbial pink slip due to the demise of their dot-com company or the extremecost-cutting measures resulting in lay-offs and high-tech downsizing. Othersworkers have left for jobs at more secure, traditional companies. Thisdownsizing phenomenon, although reminiscent of economic recessions of the past,is different from a number of perspectives. It is different because of the typeof laid-off employee, the way in which the terminations are being handled andthe changed perception of potential employers towards the unemployed. InSilicon Valley style, the dot-com pink slips offer a few lessons for HRprofessionals. Forthe first time in employment history, the profile of most of those maderedundant is that of young knowledge worker who has participated in one of themost exciting technological revolutions and entrepreneurial global workenvironment experiments. Whilethese workers can be divided into two camps – those with technical skills andthose with general business skills – both groups tend to be highly skilled,electronically savvy and multiculturally diverse. They have worked on teams,functioned in a very fast-paced environment and are project-driven. Althoughtheir competency profiles should be an asset for traditional companies, theautonomy they have enjoyed in their dot-com companies may not easily fit themore corporate culture of the traditional economy. The lure of foregoing the24/7 for a more balanced work life and the security of a larger company may counteracttheir apathy towards a more structured traditional work environment.  Dot-coms,in their demise, are also changing the way in which terminations are beinghandled. True to their dot-com creativity, with very little HR expertise, andoften with a three-month severance package (considered generous for firedAmerican employees with such short tenure) and no union representation,companies and laid-off employees have resorted to a number of copingmechanisms. The most notorious one is the now-famous pink-slip party. The WordSpy (www.logophilia.com) defines pink-slip party as “a party where eachattendee is a person who has recently lost their job, particularly because of afailed or downsized dot-com company”. Althoughthe term dates back to the late 1980s, the pink-slip party was introduced tobring together people who have lost their dot-com jobs (wearing red dots) andrecruiters (wearing green dots) who are still hiring and looking to fillhigh-tech positions. At these monthly parties, former staff not only gather tomeet recruiters but also to find mutual support and put their networking skillsto use in the search for suitable employment. Other, more virtual, networkingactivities are evident in the many Web sites that have sprung up providing support,advice and survival tips for the casualties of the new economy. Once past theshock of termination, laid-off knowledge workers are using their networkingskills to find virtual or live support in making a career transition.Finally,this group is changing the perception towards the stigma of unemployment. Theirterminations were in general not labelled as being performance-related. Afterall, they were volunteers in a new work experiment. They wear their new-economybattle scars with the pride of war veterans. Their future employers, HR andother managers, remember their own lay-off experiences a decade or more ago. Theessence of HR is to balance the strategic human capital requirements of thecompany and the needs of the employees. As the traditional economy is beingchallenged to embrace new-economy technologies in order to increaseproductivity, HR professionals can be the linchpins in the reintegration oftalented laid-off dot-commers into the new workplace.GlobalHR trivia poserWhatis the origin of the term “pink slip”?Theterm is used in English (companies) to refer to a laid-off employee. When Ihave asked HR colleagues about the origin of this Anglo-Saxon term, responseshave varied from “I don’t know” to strange looks (how could I be soignorant!) and a multitude of unrelated explanations. Please send your responseto this HR trivia question as a Letter to the Editor ([email protected]).Sincemany of our readers are global HR professionals who are not native Englishspeakers, I challenge them to share a vernacular term in their language thatcorresponds to the English “pink slip” and explain its origins. Welook forward to hearing from you. Pink-slip partyOn 1 Jul 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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