John Klossner

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Klossner: “We’ve suffered an employee separation of the lower cubicle”

“Employee separation.” I came across this Orwellian term while reading the FCW story on recommended security steps to take when an employee leaves. The term jarred me, as it reeked of consultant jargon. I understand that it refers to any situation where an employee leaves the workplace, but I can't help but feel that it covers the employers' concerns rather than the employees'.

It sounds like a medical term -- "We've suffered an employee's separation of the lower cubicle." Doesn't employee separation also refer to what happens at the end of every working day? Is it a dance step? Do managers address a soon-to-be-let-go employee and tell them "we have to separate you?"

I guess what really catches my ear is that this sounds like a term that would only be used by an employer. No one comes home and tells their loved ones "I got separated today." Have you received any invitations to a "separation party" or "separation luncheon?"

Maybe this is oversensitivity on my part. I imagine it was intended to cover any situation where an employee leaves -- moving on to another job, retirement, going back to school, escaping to the private sector -- including situations where the employee makes the choice to "separate." Recent economic events don't make one think of this verb is from both sides of the desk, do they?

The technical term for the process immediately following employee separation is "de-provision." In reading the description of these steps, one gets the impression of a swat team descending upon the separated employee's cubicle and putting up crime scene tape. I also have an image of everyone acting relaxed and in control, when you know they want to rush to the "separated" employee's cubicle and make sure all the paper clips are still there.

Should management/consultants have need for other terms to cover the situation, I offer the following:

* They'll (employees) be stepping back to take a look at the big picture.
* They're going for the long coffee break.
* They're being given an opportunity to do research in job futures.
* They're on our bottomless sabbatical program.

And employees -- or separated employees -- might want a few terms of their own:

* Employee laceration.
* Doing the security guard tango.
* Returning to the home office.
* Forgetting the security code for good.
* Cutting back on office expenses.
* Joining the ranks of the newly self-unemployed.

Please feel free to submit any terms of your own. I'll gladly use this space in the future to share submissions.

Klossner FCW Deprovision

Cartoon note: The cartoon I created for this subject didn't work so well. In looking at the finished piece, I don't think the intended image -- a person being spun around in "pin the tail on the donkey" style -- is one that can be easily rendered. Showing motion -- impending or happening -- is tricky in a static cartoon. The cartoonist has to make sure that it is easily recognized, which I don't think is the case here.

Posted by John Klossner on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:18 PM


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