A cloud of uncertainty hovers over the clinical laboratory field: the cloud of potential layoffs. No one is immune -- technologists, clerks, supervisors, laboratory scientists, pathologist directors, and even salespeople.
The layoff has been given many euphemisms by creative managers, among them downsizing, reengineering, flattening the organizational chart, eliminating duplication, taking advantage of synergies, and restructuring to retain the competitive edge (see Dec. 1995 MLO, p. 36). Yet, the message is clear -- no job is safe. A layoff could easily happen to you!
There are four phases of the layoff. Following are higrilights from each
Initial consideration. In the initial consideration phase, a layoff is first presented as a possible solution to a financial crisis or as a way to improve the bottom line. It is not uncommon for a hospital administrator to invite a consultant to evaluate laboratory costs and find ways to make the operation more efficient. A series of recommendations is made, e.g., consolidate workstations, network with other hospital laboratories, consider a joint-venture with a commercial lab, eliminate redundant layers of management, or send infrequently ordered tests to a reference lab. All these reduce costs by cutting jobs.
In the commercial lab world, as with most businesses, the merger or acquisition gives the parent company an opportunity to become more efficient -- again by eliminating staff. Discussions are held at the highest levels to consider the advisability of such layoffs for both the hospital lab and for the commercial laboratory. Unless it becomes apparent service would be impacted dramatically, the layoff decision is made. The die is cast. All that is left is who, how, and when. These questions are dealt with in the next three phases.
Limited info access. The second phase is that of limited access to information. We can refer to this period as the "innercircle" phenomenon. The top executives know of the impending...