Today was Pink Slip Tuesday at my company. They laid-off 10 of my friends, which was 20% of our staff. The only good news for me today is I’m not one of the people who were let go. Since this is the best job I’ve had in my career, I don’t relish the thought of losing it. I was hoping to become a part of the big success and cash in those stock options. I dreamt of a promising future, filled with accomplishments and opportunities. My dreams are still alive for the moment. And, hopefully, they will blossom once again.
Making Sense of it All
Days like today deliver a powerful message to employees. We are vulnerable to market conditions, company goals and whims of those who manage us. It’s a helpless feeling to know as an employee you have no control over your next paycheck. Yet, it is a valuable lesson for those who have become too dependent on their employer. We are each responsible for our own futures. And, it is foolish to believe someone else is obligated to take care of us. So, we forge ahead, knowing there will be no pensions or gold watches waiting for us.
After 25 years of corporate life, the layoffs are something I never get used to. It’s like attending a funeral as a small child. You understand why someone has been lost. But, that still doesn’t ease the pain you feel when they are gone. It is especially personal for me, because I have to pack up their computers and forward their phones to the receptionist.
Often, I feel like the grim reaper. I know when someone’s number is coming up and I have to smile and make polite conversation ahead of the layoff meeting. I never intend to get used to this charade. And, I never intend to become callous to an event that deeply affects people’s lives. Yet, I will execute my duties, as I have for decades. And, I will think of my fallen comrades.
Lessons from the Trenches
Be All that you can Be – Do whatever is required of you, not just the things listed in your job description. Volunteer for the ugly little projects that no one else will touch. Having worked at two start-ups and two other companies that have shut down, I know a lot about reductions in force. And, the people who are let go first are usually difficult to work with, inflexible with their job duties or specialists in a unique field. Employees who become valuable to a down-sizing company are able to wear many hats, they pitch in to help out and they make problems disappear.
Never Count your Chickens – Your income is never assured and you need to plan for its loss. Having been laid-off twice, I know how important it is to keep the payments low and to have money stashed away. The last thing anyone needs is to lose their cars or their house due to a layoff. Searching for a job is stressful enough, without having to deal with crushing money problems. A layoff is often sudden and unexpected. So, don’t be caught by surprise. Be prepared financially, before the pink slip arrives.
Develop your Professional Network –If you are like most job seekers, your next job opportunity will come from someone you know. During troubled times, a friend, a customer or a coworker can help get your foot in the door. It goes without saying that if you have treated these people in a professional manner, they will be happy to act as a reference or to introduce you to someone who is hiring. Join LinkedIn or Facebook and keep in touch with the people you have worked with.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that companies will do what is best for the company and the shareholders. And, that isn’t always what is best for the employees. You need to do what is best for you and your family. And, the best thing in my opinion is to become prepared financially.
“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas Edison – American Inventor
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