Seniority-based procedures have traditionally been used in the United States as the main determinants of human resource activities. For examples, promotions have been based on who has stayed most in a business firm; and if the need for layoff or downsizing arises, those employees that were hired most recently have been the first to face the axe. Additionally, employees who have stayed longer in an organization are usually paid higher than new entrants at the same level. However, management procedures have been changing. For example, the Virgin group shifted to merit-based procedures.
In this essay, I discuss the reasons why I think that seniority based management procedures are not fair during times of reduction in workforce. First of all, new employees may be more qualified to fulfill certain work responsibilities than those that have existed in an organization for longer periods of time. This is more so since education curricula have been changing so as to meet the requirements of the job markets. When a more knowledgeable and skilled worker is dismissed to save a lesser knowledgeable employee, then that is not fair.
The younger entrant is definitely going to feel cheated by the system and will get de-motivated. Embracing seniority-based procedures therefore kills motivation and causes a decrease of essential skills in the workforce. Secondly, young entrants in an organization strive very hard to make an impact and develop their professional skills. In the meantime, employees who have existed longer in an organization which executes seniority-based procedures know that incase the need arises for layoffs or workforce reduction arises, they are going to be relatively safer.
This causes unfairness in the distribution and execution of responsibilities. Younger employees will always go an extra mile o prove their competence; and this effort is undermined by virtue of their having relatively minimal job security. When the need arises for layoffs or workforce reduction, the genesis of the problem is on poor management or reduced productivity on the part of employees; and the impact of these usually mounts with time.
Longer serving employees are therefore more responsible for the decline of a company’s business activity and declining financial power; factors which render the business unable to support its workforce. With this consideration in mind, they therefore should be first dismissed before attention is turned to the newer workers who harbor lesser responsibility for the circumstances necessitating the layoffs. When employees are sacked or dismissed on the basis of how new they are in an organization, they are actually being turned into sacrificial lambs, paying for the indulgences of others.
This is not fair at all. Instead of basing dismissals on the last-hired first-hired rule, the focus should be on the contribution of every single employee to the difficulty the organization is going through. In fact, newer employees may actually be more productive than longer-serving employees. There is an ethical perspective to the effect that seniority-based employee dismissals are unfair in that older employees have already garnered more on-the-job experience and resources.
If they are dismissed and find themselves available in the market, they are more likely to get more openings. They are therefore better positioned to land alternative employment if they are offloaded. On the contrary, a fresher employee, assuming the system is all based on seniority-based procedures, will have to start building his or her career from scratch. In some cases, older employees who have established themselves economically should maybe volunteer to step out of their positions to pave way for new talent.