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According to a recent study from Info-Tech Research Group, IT leaders view poor job performance as the top factor when determining whether to lay off staff. However, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of layoffs.

“With cost reduction on the brain, many IT decision makers view layoffs as a great chance to remove low performing, negative, or poor-fit employees,” says Jennifer Perrier-Knox, senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. “However, while the short term savings may be attractive, ‘opportunistic’ layoffs present several longer term problems.”

First, it suggests that IT leaders have been avoiding effective and timely employee performance and problem management, allowing issues to remain unresolved.

Second, when an employee is terminated during a layoff, the vacant position cannot be refilled with a stronger performer due to accompanying hiring freezes, thus creating prolonged critical skill gaps.

Third, Corporate Policies & Collective Bargaining Agreements often dictate that layoffs be based on business need rather than individual performance. By intertwining these two factors, companies are at risk of non-compliance with their own internal HR governance procedures.

“Organizations conducting layoffs should first assess business requirements when setting IT staffing levels. Once these staffing levels are determined, they may then consider skills and productivity when evaluating which employee should fill a particular position,” cautions Perrier-Knox.

About The Study

The survey completed by 192 IT decision makers across North America found that individual job performance (85%) is the most important of 13 decision-making factors when these leaders are determining who will be laid off. This factor is followed by relevance of skill set (73%), fit with organizational culture (51%) and attitude/job satisfaction (45%). Importantly, salary/compensation levels did not appear among the top five factors.

About Info-Tech Research Group

With a paid membership of over 21,000 worldwide, Info-Tech Research Group ( is a global leader in providing tactical, practical Information Technology research and analysis. Info-Tech has been addressing the needs of IT professionals for over 10 years, and is one of North America's fastest growing full-service IT analyst firms.

For interviews with Info-Tech Research Group, contact Rachel Flewelling at or 1-888-670-8889 ext. 3061

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Search Code: 10370
Published: May 27, 2009
Last Revised: May 27, 2009

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