Why are our bosses so eager to warn us we’re laid off?

It’s Friday night, December 16th about 10:00 p.m. and my boss called me to let me know I’d been laid off. “But wait, it’s not midnight yet and the House passed the budget“, I say. “No, if things don’t get passed you can’t come to work on Monday”, he said.

So I’m a little ticked, to say the least. Ticked because I’ve been “laid off”? No, ticked because this knee jerk call woke up my kids. Ticked because the Hill can’t seem to get anything done until the 11th (and a half) hour. Ticked because this makes fantastic news.

Come Monday morning it will be business as usual. I just hope my kids aren’t cranky.


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Susan Thomas

Your boss clearly jumped the gun. Agencies must have shut down plans that identify employees that are “excepted” and “non-excepted”. Employees should always be aware of what the agency shut down plan states and their status, in the event of budget impasses. This is not classified information. I informed my employees that, in the event of a furlough, they were “not excepted”. They already know. As a manager, I was still required to put them on informal notice, pending the outcome of Congressional action.

Federal employees are always caught in the middle. Until there is some adult supervision, we can only look forward to more of these machinations.

Benjamin Strong

Thanks Susan. Yes, they jumped the gun. We have been through the drill, received email instructions and knew what category employee we are. I appreciate I needed to be put on “notice”, but I think that notice could have been given at a reasonable hour.

Perhaps we can look forward to a less dysfunctional Congress. Ha!

Andrew Krzmarzick

A quick perspective thing here. I don’t have the experience with your boss that you do, but one might make the argument that he was trying to wait until the last possible moment to make that call and 10p has usually been my cut-off in calling anyone. Maybe he didn’t want to call you on the weekend, so he snuck it in on Friday night rather than call on Saturday or Sunday. Maybe your boss had good intentions…and assuming the best might allow you to be a little less pissed.

Or maybe he is like Scrooge and just getting in the Dickensian holiday spirit. 🙂

Benjamin Strong

Andrew, I think there is tremendous pressure from senior levels to be “on the tip of the spear”. That forward leaning, knee jerk mentality may be beneficial in certain situations but this is probably not one of them. I’m fortunate I’ve got some time under my belt, some savings for such an instance, and I watch the news (I knew a layoff wasn’t really going to happen). But what if I’m a younger fed, with financial troubles, struggling? What if someone in crisis received this knee jerk call? In this tough economy I shudder to think what might happen. I’d hate to hear a fellow employee, in crisis, did something rash because they thought they had been laid off.

I just ask our leader use some common sense when notifying employees of potentially bad news.

Oh, and my boss isn’t Machiavellian, he was just following orders. I’m sure it was well intentioned.

Carol Davison

Bosses do this because they want to give the bad news rather than waiting and having the rumor mill be seen as a more accurate and timely information bearer or distort things.

I would rather hear bad news that is wrong and prepare for it, than otherwise.

At this holiday time of great spending and travel some people need to be told to economize.

Benjamin Strong

Carol, I agree the bad news needs to be shared but there is a time and place for everything. 2200 hours on a Friday night for a group of employees that do not report on the weekends is probably poor timing. The notifications could have been made prior to close of business on Friday or during more normal business hours on the weekend.

This was the third time we prepared for such a shutdown. We’ve become experts at this madness.

Susan Thomas

Employees should be well aware of their work status before a shutdown looms or occurs. Congress has proven it does not care about the strain this puts on workers. Politicians do not realize there are real people who struggle every day to make ends meet. A furlough of just a few hours or one day could devastate already strained budgets.

Paul Alberti

The other side of this is – “no one ever tells me what is going on, my Boss never informs us of important issues”. So, err on the side of informed or wait, “knowing” there will be no shutdown. But then the impossible happens and you hear it on the news or a friend not in the government calls you to give you a hard tome for waisting your time as a Fed. “But my Boss didn’t call me”. I have been on both sides – never easy timing calls like that. My calls were telling my soldiers they were deployed for a year plus – get that one wrong and you mess up alot of people.

But imagine if Congress could actualy do one of the appointed functions listed in the Constitution – fund the federal government on time. Now – that is somethng to call about!