New rules of disengagement

Job-hoppers abound in these days of plentiful work. Don't like your gig? They're hiring right next door.

Of course, for their part, businesses aren't so hard up for help that they don't show employees the door now and again.

A merger, for example, can create job "redundancy" - and trigger a competition for places.

But whether connected with mergers or not, layoffs are still all about money in the end. Right?

Wrong, says a new poll of 272 mid- and upper-level managers at 300 of the largest US companies.

With unemployment low and the stock market high, the reason behind a firing has become less likely to be attributed to belt-tightening or missed sales forecasts.

It's more about whether you work well with others.

The most prevalent reasons for firings: abrasiveness; insensitivity; lack of loyalty; communication weakness; poor initiative; poor treatment of subordinates; poor attendance; and negative attitude, says the poll, by Goodrich & Sherwood Associates, human-resources consultants in New York.

Only 4 percent of those surveyed gave economic factors as the reason for terminations.

Need more evidence that pruning overhead has slipped as a prelude to pink slips? Asked if a place could somehow be found for "an excellent worker," only 3 percent answered "no."

That offers hope for people with drive. On the other hand, some of these new justifications for firing could promote hair-trigger terminations. Don't quite fit the corporate culture? Maybe you're an "attitude" case. See ya!

Blame it, in part, on the free-agent job-hoppers. But when times get lean again, it could be easier for bosses to wield the ax.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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