Employees shaken by downsizing tremors

By Lesley Young
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/12/2001

Canadian organizations are entering the new century grappling with change management initiatives, research shows. While tales of merger mania dominate the headlines, the downsizing that is still occurring seems to have dropped from view, cloaking the reality that many employees are struggling with the effects of change.

The WorkCanada survey by Watson Wyatt shows more organizations underwent downsizing in the past year than those that grew (see chart). Only eight per cent of the 1,604 Canadian employees surveyed said they experienced no change last year.

And employees who experienced acquisitions, growth or mergers said they felt their organizations did a better job at handling change than those who experienced more negative activities, such as downsizing. While the finding is no surprise, the issue is that downsizing — a word that really came into its own in the late 1980s and early 1990s — is perceived differently in the New Economy, say consultants.