The big banks on Wall Street have significantly improved their diabolical ways of axing employees.

Long gone are the days of the 1987 stock market crash, where whole departments were herded into large conference rooms to hear they were collectively fired. The current economic situation requires a lot more tact and finesse, or maybe not.

A story in the New York Times today describes the large numbers of Wall Streeters getting sent packing because of the current economic downturn. Citigroup, Morgan Stanely, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and of course, Bear Stearns are all mentioned in the downsizing battle. The strategy seems to be:

  1. Announce problems due to the credit crunch/sub-prime/recession fears/ weather/global warming, etc.
  2. Lay off several thousand employees in a big firing blitz
  3. Stay cool for a few weeks
  4. Pick and choose several departments to ax over the next few weeks.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4
  6. Rinse

Even our own favorite biz babe, Meredith Whitney stepped into the fray. Quoted in the NYT article as saying:

“People will try to delay them for as long as possible,” Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst at Oppenheimer & Company, said of the layoffs, which she thinks are far from over. “It cuts to the bone.”

The hardest part about all of this was seeing all the incredibly awkward ways they delivered the metaphorical ‘pink slip.’:

The first clue that someone is gone can be e-mail messages that are returned to senders from a former colleague’s inactivated corporate address.

Ouch, harsh one! But it gets better:

Some Lehman Brothers investment bankers found out their jobs were in peril when they saw cardboard boxes and dumpster bins in the hallways in March.

“Uh… yeah. Everyone do me a favor and please ignore the boxes with your corresponding names and the phrase ‘terminated’ written in Sharpie.”

But while all those ‘gym rats and spa swans‘ are having the time of their lives over at Bear Stearns, women like this were getting the shit end of the stick:

In January, when Ms. JoAnne Kennedy was temporarily out of the office at JPMorgan because of surgery, her boss called to say her job had been eliminated. She did not return to her office and ended up asking the bank to send her the photos of her son that she kept on her desk.

The article also goes on to say how Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays are becoming the ‘hottest’ firing days in the financial industry. The thinking behind it is that the weekend leaves too much time for employees to stew over their redundancies.

Personally, I would much rather hear about it on a Friday, so I may spend the better part of the weekend crafting a hate-filled letter to my former boss who left me out to dry.

Let us know in the comments section some of the best/worst ways you’ve heard of ‘letting someone go’.

New York Times: For Wall Street Workers, Axe Falls Quietly, May 16, 2008