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Don't see this as a fundamental shift but more as an accelerated continuation or increase in the steady erosion that has occurred over the last few decades. Wrote about it decades ago, in "The Failure of Corporate Reward Systems".

Actually, this current corporate employer response mode seems far "kinder" than the callous ax-swinging of the "re-engineering" era and earlier more brutal times of economic crisis.

Previous downturns gave birth to the outplacement industry, which is conspicously absent today, as far as I can see. Companies today seem somewhat (a) more sensitive to morale, (b) more aware of the value of their human talent, (c) more reluctant to cut people totally adrift and (d) more willing to ask ALL employees to take a slight cut to save SOME people their jobs. The disproportionately higher value health benefits have today may have a lot to do with this "new" trend, because it is literally impossible for an uninsured to replace existing corporate health care policies.

That said, I agree that the long-term effects will merely further destroy whatever weak faint vestiges of "Company loyalty" that still survive. Reciprocal dynamics rule. We're teaching folk about trust, devotion, dedication and teamwork... their presence and their absence.


Good points all. Yes - reciprocal dynamics rule (much to the surprise of some employers)!

I, too, noticed the absence (or perhaps the invisibility?) of the outplacement industry during this past year and its actions. Interesting to hypothesize on what that's about ....

Thanks for the comment!

Great post, Ann. Outplacement isn't dead, though I doubt it's as popular as it once was. Here are a couple recent Workforce Management stories about outplacement, circa 2009:

Outplacement as a benefit: http://www.workforce.com/archive/feature/26/19/34/index.php

Recruiters & outplacement: http://www.workforce.com/archive/feature/26/23/87/index.php


Thanks for stopping by ... and for sharing the info and links on outplacement!

A loss of trust because the Social Contract between Employer and Employees has been broken by the current recession? This concept is way behind the reality of the workplace. The Social Contract was breached in the 1980s - and there has been no trust between Employer and Employee since then. Time for Employers to accept the reality of the world as it is and not as they want it to be and stop bemoaing the loss of trust and loyalty. The WorkQuake(tm) of the Knowledge Economy has created a workforce of Free Agents who are not committed to the organization but to themselves and their Work Team Members. Want a dedicated productive Work Force? Then answer the question every Employee poses every day they show up for work: What Is In It For Me?


I was in the workforce and consulting during the '80s, so am aware of what happened. Rather than an utter evaporation of trust at that point, as you suggest, my exerience would suggest it has been an incremental movement with its own ups and down - and this recession has pushed us further down along the spectrum toward free agency. Just my point of view. Thanks for the comments!

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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