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Workscripts: Perfect Phrases for High-Stakes Conversations by Mark Levine, Stephen M. Pollan

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Chapter 4. EMPLOYER COST-CUTTING

Asking employees to make sacrifices is not as difficult as it used to be. In years past you might need to appeal to abstract notions such as company loyalty and career development to mitigate the anger and minimize the resistance with which such initiatives would be met. Today, these dialogues need not be cloaked as appeals and there's less necessity of placating feelings.

In a difficult job market these discussions become presentations of fact; less dialogue and more declaration. Though it's an uncomfortable metaphor, these discussions today take on all the trappings of extortion. Employees are made offers they cannot refuse without losing their job. Still, employers shouldn't offer a hint of apology or make a request for assent. You don't have to hide the fact that you're informing, not requesting. Employee sacrifices and cut-backs are today's efforts at maintaining company health and individual employment. It's unnecessary to even hint at what should be obvious: for the employee the alternative to accepting this change is unemployment.

Any employee who today responds to these changes, however draconian, with an instant resignation, is someone who already has a foot out the door anyway, and is just looking for an excuse to leave. That isn't to say you won't lose people in the long term. Recognize that by changing the terms of employment you are really forcing people to launch job searches. Those who can find a position with conditions better than ...

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