laid off when the firm downsized

Roundhouse

Senior Member
Bengali
Worker A was laid off when the firm downsized [in order to cut costs].

Is their another word or phrase that can replace "downsized"? I personally am really irritated by the use of it, but I can't find an alternative. I thought of "mass layoff" but that does not fit general circumstances. A firm of 5 workers letting go of 1 worker would not be seen as a mass layoff, but the firm surely is being downsized.
 
  • reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    There are many words you can use depending on specific context.

    Worker A was laid off when the firm downsized (cut back, reduced (operations), retrenched, etc etc)

    You say you can't find an alternative, but all you have to do is go to a dictionary which will show you all kinds of possibilities. Check for example: Synonyms of downsize | Thesaurus.com

    The problem for non-native English speakers is not finding "alternatives" or synonyms......the problem is knowing which alternative or synonym fits into your context. Most synonyms are not interchangeable.....they can only be used in specific cases.
     

    Roundhouse

    Senior Member
    Bengali
    @reno33 Hi reno33, thanks very much for those options. While they would work for sure if I just modified my sentence a bit, I am looking for something that stands on its own to mean "reduced staff".

    Cambridge dictionary says

    "If you downsize a company or organization, you make it smaller by reducing the number of people working for it, and if it downsizes, it becomes smaller in this way"

    Collins says

    "To reduce the operating costs of a company by reducing the number of people it employs"

    As you can see, the meaning of downsize fits perfectly with my context. But none of the other words (cut back, reduced, retrenched) fit as they do not explicitly say anything about reducing the number of workers. Those words signal to reducing expenses/costs.

    Collins says "If a person or organization retrenches, they spend less money." Although, Cambridge says "[In] Australian English [it is] to remove a worker from their job as a way of reducing costs" It can be used certainly, but in itself the word does not mean "to layoff". "Cut back" and "reduced" also works if I word my sentence to fit the context, like "Worker A was laid off when the firm decided to cut back on operating costs". But "downsize", a word that I don't really like, can stand on its own, "John is a victim of economic downsizing". :(
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Well, I have to disagree. As I said, no synonym or near synonym will duplicate exactly a specific term in all its aspects. Terms like fast/quick/speedy are nearly identical, but they are certainly not exactly alike or totally interchangeable (that's why they exist at all).

    But many of the word discussed above with regards /downsize/ most definitely at least imply that workers are being "laid off" or losing their jobs or are being fired and so on.

    The "loss of workers" seems to be the criterion that is most important to you insofar as the term /downsize/ is concerned.

    But /downsize/ itself does not precisely mean that workers are losing their jobs. You could have a sentence like "Company X is downsizing its internet operations but no workers are losing their jobs. They're being transferred to other positions within the company." So your belief that /downsize/ ipso facto implies a loss of jobs is incorrect, or better, imprecise. It could - and most often does.......... but it is not inevitable.
     
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    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    Worker A was laid off when the firm downsized [in order to cut costs].

    Is their another word or phrase that can replace "downsized"? I personally am really irritated by the use of it, but I can't find an alternative. I thought of "mass layoff" but that does not fit general circumstances. A firm of 5 workers letting go of 1 worker would not be seen as a mass layoff, but the firm surely is being downsized.

    downsize <

    get rid of employees

    The executives got rid of a lot of employees to increase the company's profit. As a result, worker A lost his job.

    "Downsize" is, yet, another amazingly ridiculous euphemism. When a company hires people, no one says that the company is "upsizing". The company just says that they're hiring. Of course, they don't make hiring people sound better than it really is. However, they do try to neutralize getting rid of people with "downsize".
     

    Roundhouse

    Senior Member
    Bengali
    Well, I have to disagree. As I said, no synonym or near synonym will duplicate exactly a specific term in all its aspects. Terms like fast/quick/speedy are nearly identical, but they are certainly not exactly alike or totally interchangeable (that's why they exist at all).

    But many of the word discussed above with regards /downsize/ most definitely at least imply that workers are being "laid off" or losing their jobs or are being fired and so on.

    The "loss of workers" seems to be the criterion that is most important to you insofar as the term /downsize/ is concerned.

    But /downsize/ itself does not precisely mean that workers are losing their jobs. You could have a sentence like "Company X is downsizing its internet operations but no workers are losing their jobs. They're being transferred to other positions within the company." So your belief that /downsize/ ipso facto implies a loss of jobs is incorrect, or better, imprecise. It could - and most often does.......... but it is not inevitable.
    Thanks for this reno33, I agree with you that "no synonym or near synonym will duplicate exactly a specific term in all its aspects". I guess I was looking for something that would do that. I am rewording my sentence to fit one of the other mentioned adjectives, I feel very weird about "downsize".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Firms don't downsize on their own. People downsize firms.

    "Downsizing" is a "buzz word" as is the alternative I am suggesting below.

    Mike was laid off during the latest phase of corporate restructuring.

    Corporate Restructuring |Divestiture,Equity Carve-outs,Spin/Split off,Liquidation

    Corporate restructuring is a corporate action taken to significantly modify the structure or the operations of the company. This usually happens when a company is facing significant problems and is in financial jeopardy. Often, the restructuring is referred to the ways to reduce the size of the company and make it small. Corporate restructuring is essential to eliminate all the financial troubles and improve the performance of the company.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    downsize <

    However, they do try to neutralize getting rid of people with "downsize".
    I don't consider 'downsize' a euphemism. It's a pretty blunt and heartless term to me. A company that downsizes is jettisoning excess workers as if they were extra, impersonal weight that it doesn't need.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    I don't consider 'downsize' a euphemism. It's a pretty blunt and heartless term to me. A company that downsizes is jettisoning excess workers as if they were extra, impersonal weight that it doesn't need.
    Yes, I agree. That is what downsizing is. However, "downsizing" doesn't say that.

    If you, and others, do not consider that downsizing is a euphemism, then I would say that downsizing has lost its euphemistic effect because it's so commonly used.

    In other words, "downsizing" is very indirect.

    These are direct:

    We are getting rid of people so that we can increase profit.

    We are dismissing people from their positions.

    We're telling people to leave.

    The action involves people, and downsizing says nothing about people.

    "The company is downsizing." This doesn't say anything.

    "The company is eliminating positions and therefore eliminating people." This says exactly what the company is doing. But even that's indirect because it does not say who's doing it.

    "The company wants to make its payroll smaller, and so they are telling employees to look for a job somewhere else."

    The term "downsize" provides a very convenient way to hide, in a verbal way, what the company is doing.
     

    Roundhouse

    Senior Member
    Bengali
    The action involves people, and downsizing says nothing about people.
    "The company is downsizing." This doesn't say anything.
    But in my second post, I mention that in the dictionaries "downsize" is defined as the following:

    Cambridge dictionary says

    "If you downsize a company or organization, you make it smaller by reducing the number of people working for it, and if it downsizes, it becomes smaller in this way"

    Collins says

    "To reduce the operating costs of a company by reducing the number of people it employs"
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I think "restructure" is more of an euphemism than "downsizing". As mentioned in my earlier post both are buzz words.

    In the real world the sentence would look like this:

    They are firing as many people as they feel they can get away with and loading their work on the rest of us so that management can maintain their high salaries. They call it "downsizing" but it is simple greed.
     

    Roundhouse

    Senior Member
    Bengali
    I think "restructure" is more of an euphemism than "downsizing". As mentioned in my earlier post both are buzz words.

    In the real world the sentence would look like this:

    They are firing as many people as they feel they can get away with and loading their work on the rest of us so that management can maintain their high salaries. They call it "downsizing" but it is simple greed.
    Packard, that is exactly what it is. But in my case, sadly I can't use the word "fire" as that (in my case) is used for circumstances when its the employees fault (misconduct). If an employee is fired then they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. To get these benefits, laid off workers must have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    Btw, your suggestion of "corporate restructuring" is what worked for me. :D
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    But in my second post, I mention that in the dictionaries "downsize" is defined as the following:

    Dictionary editors and publishers will define things in whatever way they think is appropriate or best.

    Using the term downsize is a very convenient way to exclude the people factor from an overt statement that's not supposed to sound good and not even supposed to sound neutral. This makes something implicit which really must be explicit.

    _________________

    I think "restructure" is more of an euphemism than "downsizing". As mentioned in my earlier post both are buzz words.

    In the real world the sentence would look like this:

    They are firing as many people as they feel they can get away with and loading their work on the rest of us so that management can maintain their high salaries. They call it "downsizing" but it is simple greed.
    Yes, that's exactly it. And that's why downsizing doesn't really tell the truth and why downsizing is really a euphemism.

    In the real world of people speaking among people, I believe that is what we would hear. However, in the news and in company announcements, it may not be stated just like that.

    Downsizing may not sound like a euphemism now to some people. However, I believe that downsizing was at first used so that people did not have to say that "some people are doing something bad to some other people". And this something happens to be legal. There may be times when this is absolutely practical and something a company must do in order to survive. However, many other times it's based on greed and a complete lack of caring for people who might have been with a company for 10, 20, or even 25 years.

    "Been with this company for 30 years and just got laid off. They said they were "downsizing".

    _________________

    Anyway, downsizing is a euphemism.
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    English (and other languages) produces euphemisms that come to be understood as 'impolite,' so further euphemistic words need to be created. For instance, if 'women's toilet' is too impolite, one might say 'women's bathroom,' and if that becomes too impolite, one ends up with 'ladies' room.'
    So 'laying off' becomes 'downsizing' becomes 'corporate restructuring.' To me 'downsizing' is not euphemistic if it means that the company is laying off people so as to become smaller. It's similar to the phrase 'go down a size' in clothing as a result of dieting. People are being discarded like excess pounds of fat. 'Corporate restructuring' taken literally has nothing to do with firing people; it sounds as though the workers are now the bosses.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    'Corporate restructuring' is meaningless, literally; it sounds as though the workers are now the bosses.
    Corporate restructuring can mean anything that management wants it to mean. So in that sense the term means nothing (I agree with you) outside the context of the actual restructuring.

    However I cannot recall ever hearing about a restructuring that involved a higher percentage of management positions lost than other workers. The restructuring almost always protects management from the hardships of the changes.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    However I cannot recall ever hearing about a restructuring that involved a higher percentage of management positions lost than other workers. The restructuring almost always protects management from the hardships of the changes.
    True. That's what I meant; it's meaningless (and ridculously so) because its literal meaning could be something that neither of us has seen in reality.
     

    Roundhouse

    Senior Member
    Bengali
    English (and other languages) produces euphemisms that come to be understood as 'impolite,' so further euphemistic words need to be created. For instance, if 'women's toilet' is too impolite, one might say 'women's bathroom,' and if that becomes too impolite, one ends up with 'ladies' room.'
    So 'laying off' becomes 'downsizing' becomes 'corporate restructuring.' To me 'downsizing' is not euphemistic if it means that the company is laying off people so as to become smaller. It's similar to the phrase 'go down a size' in clothing as a result of dieting. People are being discarded like excess pounds of fat. 'Corporate restructuring' taken literally has nothing to do with firing people; it sounds as though the workers are now the bosses.
    Roxxxannne, so you would prefer "She was laid off when the firm downsized" as opposed to "She was laid off during the latest phase of corporate restructuring"?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Roxxxannne, so you would prefer "She was laid off when the firm downsized" as opposed to "She was laid off during the latest phase of corporate restructuring"?
    To the person being laid off, I don't think the language difference is of any interest. The language used is to maintain a level of equanimity when dealing with the public. It is a way to save face for the corporate big shots.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    To the person being laid off, I don't think the language difference is of any interest. The language used is to maintain a level of equanimity when dealing with the public. It is a way to save face for the corporate big shots.
    I agree with Packard. If 'downsized' irritates you, then you could use the more euphemistic 'corporate restructuring' or the more matter-of-fact 'when the firm reduced the number of its workers.'
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is their another word or phrase that can replace "downsized"?
    To downsize is a vague verb - it tells us nothing much about why there was a downsizing. If you want an alternative you are going to have to be more precise, and that will involve an explanation of what, in this case, "downsizing" meant.
     
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