This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 22, 2002

Refugees or Resources?

As employers responded to their economy-driven drop in business, we've learned about mass layoffs. Thousands of workers were put out of their jobs, scrambling for income, worrying about how they would pay their bills. For the most part, these people were good workers. They were just the victims of the economic downturn.

While we felt sorry for these people, most of us did not personalize the situation, unless someone close to us was among the unfortunate. It was hard to put a face on the tragedy when large numbers of people were affected . . . and those who were not laid off had to pick up the slack. With numerous layoff announcements, it was hard to keep track of the company names. For human resource professionals who had only recently worked so hard to recruit these same people, a loss of credibility accompanied the loss of valued employees.

The anger-laden fall of Enron gave the phenomenon a "face." Not only were people suddenly out of work, but their company-the seventh largest in the country-was going out of business. The media delivered a daily dose of photos of former Enron employees with their boxes of belongings or morose looks around their kitchen tables. The picture was of the many, damaged severely by the few.

Then the fallout hit Andersen, Enron's auditor that was dragged in to share the blame. Several once-loyal clients became fickle and dropped their trusted advisors like a hot potato. Now, with business down and accusations flying, Andersen people were suddenly and unexpectedly out of work. The many were again damaged by the few, but again we had a face on the victims. The cries of "not fair" echoed across the land, but many staffing agencies and employers fell into the paint-them-all-with-one-brush syndrome and labeled Enron and Andersen victims as "refugees."

The immediate shock has passed. The refugee badge is disappearing. Employers are seeing these people as fine resources. Enron employees built a powerful company. Andersen employees provided great professional advice. Now they're coming back. These victims may be early benefactors of the economic turnaround.

Comments from our readers:

Thank you for this one of the Andersen refugees, I am hopeful that employers will see the skills and talent of the many Andersen people who are faced with identifying new employment opportunities. Thank you for reminding us all that we are valuable resources!

Kim L. Kulik

The cold hard truth is that we have all been taught from conception that we go to school and then get a job. Instead, we should be teaching our selves to do something better like starting our own business. There are many networking businesses out there that would help you capitalize on even your own jobless co-workers and together you along with them, could make a very lucrative income. Gone are the days where you have to listen to someone tell you when you can take off. This is truly a "trend" as you would call it!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard Coble

Enron isn't/wasn't a company; it is/was a market manipulation machine, with a business plan that entailed nothing more than ripping off consumers.

Dan Shell
Hatton Brown Publishers, Inc.

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