Outplaced: Committing Loss Prevention Suicide?

This year I will turn sixty-six years old and intend to retire after over thirty-six years in academia, including thirty-three years at the University of Florida. I will still be affiliated with the University of Florida as a professor emeritus. This is a voluntary decision that my wife, Candy, and I have made on our own. We both are looking forward to this new chapter in our lives. There are many places and experiences that remain unchecked on our “bucket list.” Hopefully, the LP Magazine team will allow me to continue to write this column.

A Disturbing Trend

While contemplating this voluntary change in my life, I began to notice that many senior loss prevention and asset protection executives, most years younger than me, were recently being “outplaced” due to downsizing and reorganization in their companies. I must admit that since I live in the ivory tower of academia, I had never heard of the word “outplaced.”

Regardless of what you call it, my concern is that many senior loss prevention professionals and friends who have contributed years of their lives to enhancing the profitability of their companies now find themselves involuntarily without jobs. From my perspective, it seems like the bean counters of the entire retail industry have suddenly forgotten about the years of experience that are being sacrificed. If there were corresponding new jobs in retail LP being created, this might be a different story. However, just when the battle against organized retail crime, employee theft, vendor fraud, embezzlement, and data breaches is on the verge of being won, C-level retail executives have decided to “outplace” the very people whom they need to win the war and to improve the profitability of their firms.

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Forgive me for being so frank, but what I see happening around me sounds crazy. This would be like a major university outplacing all its senior professors, instructors, mentors, and researchers and replacing them with young graduate students and recently finished PhDs. The quality of the institution would instantly be diminished, and years of hard-earned reputation would be lost. The quality of the education of generations would be affected.

Short-Sighted Insanity

I realize that I do not work in the world of business in which progress and profitability is measured in weeks, not decades, but I feel that something has be said to point out the insanity that seems to be happening right now in retail loss prevention. Is it not obvious to others reading this column that the short-term savings gained in senior loss prevention executive salaries will quickly be lost in the inevitable rise in shrinkage and loss of profitability? This seems to be a classic example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Just when the economy seems to be turning around from the crash of 2008 and the resulting Great Recession, a mere six years later the retail industry seems to be committing loss prevention suicide.

When I look at the names of people who have been recently outplaced, I wonder who will fill out the questionnaires for the next 2016 National Retail Security Survey—perhaps no one, since the email and mailing lists that we will be working from are no longer accurate.

Yes, perhaps I am exaggerating the risk, and the retail industry is not coming to an end. But I am convinced that in the profession of retail loss prevention, there will no longer be the level of experience and wisdom that existed just a few months ago.

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