Effect Of Downsizing On Employees

In current competitive business environment, it has become important for organizations to focus on unethical behavior within the firm because the way through which ethical issues are perceived by a person is affected by organizations. Moreover, behaviors of individuals working in an organization are also significantly affected by ethical practices within that organization (Tang and Harris, 2015). As nowadays, governments continue deregulation or denationalization of industries, so opportunities are inevitably looked by private entrepreneurs for reducing population of employee and closing or selling off extra operations. With increased deregulation and privatization all around the world, the ownership and operations of organizations are shifting from governments to businesses. In order to reduce costs and increasing short term profitability, organizations focus on reducing overhead or for increasing profits, management initiates practices of dehumanization within the firm (Christoff, 2014). This essay is written to critically analyse the statement that human resource can become the fall guy for the dehumanization or work. In order to analyze this, the human resource activities of downsizing, rightsizing, reallocating and redeployments have been evaluated.

1.Literature and Critical Review

Dehumanization is an orientation system in the world of person through which people belonging to other categories or groups are not assumed as human. This is the procedure through which members of people states the inferiority of other group with the help of overt or subtle statements or acts and can be directed through company or can be the composite of individual action and sentiments. In accordance with Cropanzano and Becker (2013) generally in organizations de-humanization occurs when one individual looks at the perspective of other people in negative manner, which result into the belief that the other one is undeserving of the kindness and respect which is afforded to other person or one self. It is like if the comparison of individual is done with the nonhuman. Generally, in organizations, de-humanization is the psychological procedure where employees are made such a way that they look less than human. Therefore, de-humanization provides services for excluding individuals through the society norms (Johnson and Buckley, 2015).

According to Van Baar (2012) the behavior and attitudes of de-humanization occur majorly in settings of organization and they are seemed as acceptable, and important, technique to pursue organizational and personal objectives. Behind this observation, there are different beliefs related to the de-humanization. The determination of these beliefs is done culturally, rather than dependent over scientific observations. One this belief is that subtle kinds of de-humanization, like neglect, condescension, and disrespect are inconsequential and innocent. It is believed that empathy interferes with the solutions of issue and that is why; it suppress the naturally existing empathy, and the suppression entails the de-humanization, which proves to be helpful in improving capacity of problem solving and making better decisions.

 This is a proof for the broad approaching negative circumstances of mild behaviors and attitudes of de-humanization. In organizations, de-humanization others results into increment of anti-sociality regarding them in enhanced aggressive attitudes like bullying and harassment (Rudman and Mescher, 2012), also hostile attitudes like social rejection (Martinez et al., 2011). This enhanced aggression and hostility are fulfilled through decreased moral that attribute for the ones who get de-humanized. Therefore, they are judged without much protection through harm (Gray et al., 2007; Bastian and Haslam, 2011). The perpetrators of maltreatments can experience negative behaviours in employees like shame and guilt, which can cause stronger de-humanization behaviours regarding their focus in trial to downplay the sufferings and to justify the maltreatment. This de-humanization has been depicted in contexts with intergroup (Castano and Giner-Sorolla, 2006). A vicious cycle can emerge, through which de-humanization does the promotion of aggression and maltreatment, which in turn does the promotion of de-humanization.

When mechanical de-humanization of employees within the organization is done through being treated like objective, or as having less feeling, they get into the cognitive deconstructive conditions that can be characterized through decreased clarity of absence of thought; cognitive inflexibility and emotional numbing are resulted in employees (Bastian and Haslam, 2011). To experience such de-humanization can result into feelings of anger and sadness in individuals. Dehumanization are status-decreasing maltreatment like degradation and condescension, or being treated as unsophisticated, unintelligent, incompetent, and embarrassing which can result into feelings of shame and guilt. Such maltreatments of de-humanization tend to have detrimental influence over psychological wellbeing of employees. In accordance with theory of self-determination (Ryan and Deci, 2000), wellbeing of psychology needs the basic psychological requirements of relatedness, competence, autonomy are fulfilled. Dehumanizing maltreatments, cause impaired ability for satisfaction of requirements, and therefore make contribution in the mental illness like stress-linked disorders, anxiety, and depression.

According to Marquardt and Berger (2003) in organizations, employees are not treated as human beings but rather than that they are just treated as machines. Due to this management approach, human resource managers do not think about emotions and potential behaviors of employees before taking any decision. Generally, within the organizations reallocation, downsizing, rightsizing and redeployments are practices that mostly hurt emotions and behaviors of old and current employees in a negative way. Most of the times, employees in specific approach to downsizing are treated in an abstract fashion. According to this human engineering approach to downsizing, employees are considered as liabilities rather than assets. The management does not perceive that these humans can give a lot of benefits to the company in long term, but rather than that they just think of short term benefits taken from employees (Ashman, 2015). According to this approach, employees are being used as machines or an object by the company and then in case of downsizing or deployment are asked to leave the organization. Due to this human resource management activity, short shift is got by emotional experience of employees. The relationship between employees and organization is negatively affected due to dehumanization and downsizing. It results in high demotivation level of employees and then it becomes difficult for a firm to be successful (Goergen et al, 2013).

Previous theories of psychology view de-humanization being the extreme procedure, which occurs mainly in the context of racial or ethnic conflict which occurs intergroup. However, an enhanced view of de-humanization has emerged. This increased perspective identifies that de-humanization can exist in intergroup contexts and also in interpersonal groups, and it is not jut limited to situations of over conflict (Haslam and Loughnan, 2014). De-humanization seems to be social procedure of everyday, which is rooted in social-cognitive procedures.

When de-humanization of someone is done, they are explicitly or implicitly assumed as less number of qualities that are determined to be human. In accordance with Christoff (2014) dual sample of de-humanization, there are two kinds of de-humanization related to two various kinds of humanness which are ignored. One is called as ‘animalistic’ kind of de-humanization in which humans are ignored characteristics that differentiate them from animals, characteristics like rationality, intelligence, self-control and refinement. This kind of de-humanization is described in the race, ethnicity, topics like genocide and immigration. The major issue in case of downsizing as an element of dehumanization is from the end of survivors and victims, concerning the psychological contract. This term is referred as unconscious selection of organization by people for responding to their psychological needs and supporting their psychological defense in exchange to meet the unstated needs of organization. When there is a presence of dehumanization within the organization, then psychological contract in between employer and employee is broken down. Due to deployments, reallocations and downsizing, employees’ psychological contract with the company is negatively affected. This also negatively affects hard work and loyalty level of employees. As a result of this, the feeling of dependency that might have evolved in to entitlement is shifted in to a sense of betrayal (Norman et al, 2013).

According to Manson (2014) the downsizing and deployments within the organization are considered to be strong stressors that have a significant impact on work behaviours and attitudes to remaining employees. This analysis shows that there is a lot of significance of interpersonal relationship management within the organization for helping employees in dealing with stress caused by downsizing as an aspect of dehumanization. In organizations the factor of dehumanization creates a fear of job loss and control over one’s environment. The employees feel continuous fear of job loss that is considered as basic reason to deteriorate emotional well-being in the workplace and results in creation of many diseases due to stress like heart disease and ulcers.

Financial distress and past attachment with the job is seemed as having the greatest negative effect on employees’ well-being. When management is involved in practices of dehumanization and downsizing, then usually reactions are evoked for losing the job as compared to those experienced with the death of someone. Due to these practices of human resource management within the organization, employees get long term pain and this often results in self-destruction. The way used by top management for firing employees has a significant effect on the extent of dis-functionality in work behaviour and attitude of survivors (Dogaru, 2015). It is critically analysed that for gaining a positive outcome in case of downsizing or redeployments, top management and leaders must have capability of clearly articulating a vision that creates high motivation of employees. Due to this, the situation becomes difficult for management who is involved in redeployment and downsizing in discarding the values and systems due to which they advanced up in their ladder of organizational career. In organizations, most of top executives become detached and focus on projected organizational outcomes, for dealing with personal conflicts arouse due to downsizing as an aspect of dehumanization. It is usually not recognized by many executives that performance and efficiency of employees depend highly on performance and productivity of remaining employees. Due to the ignorance of surviving emotional state of subordinates, executives become prone to make mistakes due to which destructive behaviour in employees might be created. When employees are treated like machines and they are considered as liabilities or even short term assets, then this result in demotivation of employees (Johnson and Buckley, 2015). Tang and Harris (2015) claimed that the management takes a lot of work from their employees and in case of redeployment or restructuring, they lay off employees haphazardly. This creates a negative impression of firm on employees and they get long term pain. More than this, the successor employees experience different psychological emotional reactions to this action that might include anxiety, guilt, anger and denial.

There is a possibility that organizations get high profitability and revenues by treating employees inhumanely, this also result in long term failure of the firm, as successors perceive a significant negative change in their relationship with the organization. After the starting upsurge in productivity, they have to face a condition of fearful expectancy. It is critically analysed by Kemal and Shahid (2012) that successor employees mostly face survivor sickness that depicts a set of attitude and perceptions following involuntary reduction of employees. The analysis shows that due to dehumanization within the firm, employees are negatively affected and the psychological contract among employer and employee is also broke. The employees do not feel emotionally attached with the firm and due to this their productivity level is reduced. Moreover, due to the practices of redeployment, rightsizing and downsizing the successors feel stressed and demotivated. This overall negatively affects long term profitability and success of organizations (Smollan, 2015).


From the above analysis, it can be concluded that dehumanization in the setting of organization is complex procedure with more of the implication, from individual to global and societal levels. However, scientific proofs can be bear in the examination of validity of beliefs in this region, the current analysis also depicts that most of the beliefs carry major ethical and moral implications with the organizations. Along with it, these beliefs also tend to have implicit normative approaches that have not been investigated for long time. The analysis shows that due to redeployment, rightsizing and downsizing employees get long term pain. This happens just for the sake of getting short term profitability but in reality the long term success of organization is negatively affected. Therefore, it is concluded that human resource has become a fall guy of dehumanization.





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