The Problem with “Rightsizing”:
Why Language Matters in Layoffs
Laying off employees is never an easy decision, and the language used during this process can significantly impact its perception. Recently, the term “rightsizing” has gained popularity as a way to soften the impact of layoffs, but there are several reasons why it should be avoided.
1. It’s impersonal and dehumanizing
When a company uses the term “rightsized” to describe a layoff, it implies that the decision was made purely based on numbers and data, with no consideration for the human beings who are losing their jobs. It reduces the employees to mere numbers, rather than recognizing them as people who have contributed to the company and have families and livelihoods to support. It can make the employees feel like they are not valued, and that their contributions to the company were not appreciated.
2. It can create a negative perception of the company
Using the term “rightsized” can create a negative perception of the company among its employees, as well as the general public. It can make the company appear cold and heartless, with little regard for its employees. This can damage the company’s reputation and make it more difficult to attract and retain top talent in the future.
3. It’s not an accurate description of the situation
The term “rightsized” implies that the layoff was necessary to bring the company into alignment with its goals and objectives. However, this may not be the case. Layoffs can be the result of a variety of factors, including economic downturns, shifts in the market, or poor management decisions. Using the term “rightsized” suggests that the company is simply making adjustments to ensure its success, rather than acknowledging that there may be deeper issues at play.
Using the term “rightsizing” when laying off employees can do more harm than good. It’s important to be transparent, clear, and honest about what’s happening, and to use language that’s easy to understand. While layoffs are never easy, treating employees with respect and empathy is essential to minimizing the negative impact of this process. For sample scripts, internal checklists, manager training and additional resources to help you navigate employee transition, contact our team of experts at Career Development Partners. We help companies stay competitive and compliant.