Last Updated Apr 20, 2009 1:57 PM EDT
Trust me: Telling someone they've been "offboarded" instead of "laid off" doesn't make it hurt any less. It doesn't put more money into their severance package (if they have one at all).
And it sure as heck doesn't improve the morale of those left behind. If anything, it makes management look less sincere, which results in less employee engagement among the survivors -- not more.
And some of the jargon used is just plain insulting. Last fall, Yi-Wyn Yen wrote a Fortune article ("Laid off? No, you've been 'simplified'") that described how companies used euphemisms to minimize the PR damage of mass firings.
A sampling of the ways companies tried to avoid the L-word:
- It's a "re-engineering plan" (American Express) or a "cost-improvement plan" (Fidelity)
- It's to make the company "become more fit" (Yahoo)
- Staff cuts are part of a "Special Forces philosophy" (Tesla Motors)
- Hey, it's just "employee simplification" (eBay)
- Rebalancing the level of human capital
- Corporate outplacing
Please, managers, just ditch the corporate-speak. Take a deep breath, forget the jargon, and tell it like it is. Let your last interaction with your employee at least be an honest one.
And by the way -- if you've heard any really ridiculous euphemisms for getting fired, I'd like to hear them. Share them in the comments section.