Reassignments Can Be a Form of “Quiet Cutting,” a Passive-Aggressive Layoff Strategy

Reassignments Can Be a Form of “Quiet Cutting,” a Passive-Aggressive Layoff Strategy

Companies such as Adidas, Adobe, IBM and Salesforce have sent memos to employees informing them that they still have a job, but a new one, sparking worry that restructuring is actually an unspoken strategy to get them to quit.

The practice, dubbed “quiet cutting,” is becoming more common in a softening labor market, according to AlphaSense, which provided data to The Wall Street Journal. Mentions of reassignment, or similar terms, during company earnings calls more than tripled between last August and August of this year, the Journal reported.

Journal reporter Ray A. Smith, speaking to CBS News MoneyWatch, said the companies are sending a message: Take it or leave it. “Employees I talked to had a range of emotions when they got those memos. They were either relieved that they still had a job, but on the other side they were angry and confused, and they felt like the new job they had was either lower status or lower pay or more responsibility or something they didn’t even have experience in. And so they were really angry at the companies about this.”

Because the job market isn’t as strong as it was a year ago, some employees are sticking with their new jobs while looking for a better fit internally. Some fear it’s a passive-aggressive strategy for their employers to save money. If reassigned employees are so frustrated that they leave, the company saves thousands of dollars in severance pay.

Workers have little legal recourse if their company reassigns them, unless the employee can somehow prove the move was retaliatory. The Journal quoted Roberta Matuson, an executive coach and business adviser, who said the moves may be genuine attempts to avoid layoffs. And yet, “They could be putting you out to pasture.”