Promotions, Transfers & Layoffs

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promotion is a move up the organizational ladder; job rotation and transfersare lateral moves; demotions are downward moves; and layoffs move employees out. Layoffs, in contrast to dismissals (see Chapter 14), are terminations, sometimes temporary, required for business needs unrelated to worker behavior or performance. All of these changes bring about shifts in status, and often in pay, of the employees involved.

Farmers may not anticipate the loss of morale and impact on productivity that such organizational actions can bring. When an employee feels rejected, palpable dissatisfaction may result. Guadalupe Alegría is resentful of how the company has treated her. Questions keep popping into her head: "Why did they let me stay on as a manager for so long and never told me I was not doing well?" "In fact, why did they tell me I was doing a good job?" "Since I have already learned about and proven myself on the job, why would they put someone else in there?"

Bitter does not begin to describe how Porter Douglas felt after being passed over for his promotion. To this day he feels his boss pulled an affirmative action trick on him by hiring a woman for the supervisory position.

Promoted employees, or those hired from the outside, may also face challenges as they deal with their Guadalupes and Porters after securing the job. When workers understand the logic of decisions made, morale is less likely to drop.

Difficulties may also arise when employees are not consulted: moving an employee who was working alone so she now works side-by-side with another worker might be seen—from her perspective—as anything from a reward to a punishment. So can giving an employee an unsolicited promotion into a more difficult job.

In this chapter, we first focus on seniority and merit considerations in making promotion and layoff decisions. Next, an approach to opening the selection process to outside applicants without excluding present personnel is discussed. We conclude the chapter by offering some alternatives for satisfying employees’ needs for meaningful work—without having to resort to promotions.

Gregorio Billikopf
University of California