Let’s face it… Times have changed.
My father started to work for a company when he was 21 and he stayed in the same position and for the same company for 35 years until he retired. He had no diplomas but he has a full defined benefits pension plan, had a good wage and good medical and dental insurance.
My mom also worked for the same company for more than 20 years…
Until recently, it was normal to see this. But our generation is and will be different. Not necessarily because we want it to be different, but because “they” (who are they actually) have decided that it would be that way…
I am 33 years old and I have already worked for 9 different companies and in 12 different positions… Trust me, I’m tired… I already have a lot of grey hairs. I feel that the stress is making me look older than what I am and it is also affecting my health. A big part of this is my fault. I was hungry for success and wanted to build my credibility and to increase my salary. But, part of this is also the “fault” of these new times…
I had to change company in order to get a raise because companies are too often giving raises far below real inflation (I call real inflation the inflation on food, housing and energy which is a lot higher than “official” inflation)… It is not fair, to my own belief, to see our power of purchase erodes year after year while we are more experienced and I have noticed very young that it was far easier to get a decent raise by changing employer than by trying to convince your current employer that you deserve a bigger raise. Even worst than that, if you go away and come back a couple of years later, you might even be able to get a better salary then you would have had would you have stayed employed there for all those years. I know because it happened to me. I left a company with a 38,000$ salary for another employer. 8 months later, I came back to work for the exact same company in the exact same position for 45,000$ and an extra week of vacations… Weird huh?! Well… That’s the way it is…
Anyway… I worked hard to get to where I’m at currently. I even recently had another promotion which should yield me 100,000$ within 2 years and probably around 93,000$ this year. That’s 3 times the average salary around here…
These jobs are hard to find these days and I recently decided to apply for a position I like and already occupied as a contractual employee to stay there for a while but in a permanent position this time. My plan was to settle there for a couple of years, do my job and stop seeking for promotions, stop changing employers or positions… I wanted to relax and enjoy life a little… For sure, at that salary, you can be assured that I have to handle a lot of stress and constantly take tough decisions but, I like it and it’s easy for me.
This plan was all good until a couple of months ago. When a former investment banker is appointed by the shareholders as the new CEO of the company you work for, the message is clear… A restructuring is underway!
The paradox of being a capitalist and an employee at the same time!
As an investor, a company restructuring is often a very good news. I like to see corporations reorganize themselves to cut costs and be more profitable for me, the investor. But as an employee, we can see things differently. And here, there’s a big paradox because most of us are shareholders and employees in a way or another. If you own a mutual fund, a defined benefits pension plan, an index fund, single shares of a company, than you are a shareholder and you could profit from these restructurings or be the victim of them at the same time.
That’s the position I’m in and it serves a good lesson.
I was, with all the other employees, recently invited to an abnormal meeting outside the corporation in a neutral place. All the employees across the country were obliged to go and the agenda wasn’t given before the meeting. Oh oh!!! A meeting outside the company’s offices / with all the employees /with no agenda… These are the ingredients of a recipe we all know.
I knew what was to be announced. It was not my first time… A previous employer I had did the same.
Is having a big mouth always a good idea?
This new CEO is really a master in communication. When he first started a couple of months ago, he presented himself as a friend and showed us pictures of him and his lovely wife and kids at the chalet. He wanted us to call him by his first name and he wanted us to talk openly about what was not working well and what could be improved in the company. He even had a blog! Wow! He came in every offices and held meetings with every employees of the corporation to hear from us.
Employees had a lot to say. After all, humans like to complain. Everybody had ideas and we were encouraged to tell them and to bring them directly to the CEO in person.
This was very well done. Employees have given many ideas. For sure, there is always something that can be improved.
Key messages started to be disseminated here and there. “We need to evolve. Change is necessary. We need change. It’s about time we have the possibility to improve things.”
What he did was to make people tell him that a lot of change was needed in the company. We spent months thinking about what could be done better, what was not perfect. Everybody gave ideas. We were asked for opinions but by doing so, we confirmed that change was necessary. We had to change! No one was talking about that before he came in as the new CEO. The words “we need to change” were not in people’s mouths. People were doing their jobs, enjoying their life and discussing about the future trip they would do during their next vacations. After all, the company was doing well and was very profitable.
I don’t say that it would not be a good idea to improve things out, to straighten some processes and to revisit some decision making steps. I just say that people had other subjects of discussion. After all, things were in good shape and the business was turning round.
When we had THE meeting with all the employees across the country at the same time, the key messages suddenly evolved. Decisions were made. The “we need to change” disappeared and was replaced.
During the meeting, the CEO told us that he heard our voices. We are asking for things to evolve. We are asking for a change. After all, with all the ideas and comments we sent him, it is quite clear that this company needs a fresh wind to blow the old dust. Statistics were presented about all the ideas that were submitted.
And trust me, change there will be. The mission and vision of the company have been rewritten. All the structure and every positions will be overlooked and someone will decide if the job we’re doing is still necessary given the new vision and mission of the company. A private company has even been hired to help us go through all those changes.
The new CEO has the merit to be honest and clear. Someone asked if there would be some job losses with all those changes. His answer was straight.
“Yes. obviously there will be job losses. After all, it’s a restructuring!!! And in every restructuring some lose their job… It’s a fact… But you employees asked for it… You asked for changes to be made.”
It’s funny to see people suggest changes that would cut their job and make them unnecessary to the company. They feel proud because they gave a good idea but they fail to realize that if we ask for a computer program to answer the phone, we will need a lot less humans to answer it. They also fail to realize that if we have a better software with artificial intelligence embedded in it, than we might need a lot less decision makers or clerks doing everything by hands. You should have seen their face when they realized that what they had suggested would really become reality and make them obsolete. What were they thinking? They thought that they could sit on their ass all day and let the computer do their job while they would drink coffee with colleagues and still receive their paycheck?
The CEO wants to invest a lot of money in technology. That money has to come from somewhere… They will obviously cut paychecks to pay for this new technology that will replace humans.
Now, since that meeting, the atmosphere is weird at the office. Everybody is scared… After all, the CEO told us that they will review every job description and that there will be job losses. He also told us that it will take weeks and months, but not years to do that. And he told us that for now it’s too soon to know who will lose or keep their job but we’re all at risk.
He’s been there for a couple of months… we’ve been there for years or even decades… But this doesn’t count in the balance these days. After all, the company doesn’t belong to its employees. It belongs to shareholders. And the employees belong to the company. The salary you receive every week and the two or three weeks vacations you are authorized to take every year is all that belongs to you and there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will receive them next week and the week after… it all depends of the shareholders and the CEO. The projects you are working on are not your projects. All the ideas you had between 9@5 (or even after) are not your ideas. They are owned by the company.
That’s our society my friends…
Honestly, I’m scared too. Who wouldn’t be? I have a mortgage to pay. We plan to have a kid soon. I worked hard to get that job and I like it. I don’t feel like starting over elsewhere again… I made myself a reputation there and it takes time to build that… I don’t want to be forced to start over again.
But, this restructuring will happen and I can’t change that.
The collective psychosis of over-positiveness
Now, when you cross a high manager in the corridor, he looks everywhere to see if there would be some places to hide but since it’s a corridor, he soon realizes that he has to pass next to you. And, most of them stop and tell you “Hey, what do you think of what’s happening? It’s VERY very very positive, isn’t it?” And then they node their head like if they would like to emphasize the words VERY POSITIVE…
Clearly, these managers are scared too… But, they have to tell employees like me the key messages they were asked to say.
I hate it when they do that. What can I say? I have to smile, sound and look happy and say “Yes, it’s really positive. I’m very motivated by all those changes.” I’m sorry, but if I lose my job, I won’t think it’s positive. And if I keep my job but my friends lose theirs, I won’t think it’s very positive… at least for a while. Let me live my emotions. We just told me I could lose my job anytime. It may be possible that I won’t feel relax and positive for a while.
People are weird sometime. I wonder if humans really are intelligent in the end or even if we are really evolving as a specie. When I see such behaviors it makes me feel sad. Can’t we just say the damn f*** real things and stop lying to each others??!!
I know these managers are scared. Some of them have been my mentors and I truly respect them. And I’m intelligent enough to know that managers are the first one to be ejected when a restructuring occurs. So, I understand why they are “playing” the game… But… It makes me feel sad.
Now the new key messages that are disseminated here and there are :
“Change is good.”
“Change is always very very positive.”
“What the CEO is suggesting is great and positive.”
Doesn’t this sound like a George Orwell novel?
Honestly, I think that it is good to change things for the better sometimes. I also think that the changes they want to make in the company might help us (the company) be better positioned. But… I’m also an idealist… Everybody (or almost everybody) has been working hard in this company. We gave our time, our heart, our health, our freedom to a company in exchange of a salary and 3 weeks vacation. We sacrificed our life and freedom for just that… I know it’s the way our society works… I know that no one has forced me to work there vs with another corporation, but I mean, we are humans, we have kids and families to take care of, we have mortgages and medical bills to pay… And, I think it is normal to be scared when the CEO tells you that your job might be at risk.
How to survive?
When such things happen, there are three attitudes someone can have.
1. We can flee and search for an opportunity elsewhere before it’s too late and before the market will be saturated by too many qualified workers looking for the same job offers.
2. We can fight. Many people have aggressive reactions to such situations. They feel it is unfair. They feel it’s an injustice. But the fact is, it’s happening everyday and everywhere now… It’s our new reality. And, fighting against the tide is stupid… no one can win at that game and the only thing that will happen is that you will drown.
3. Be part of the solution. This is the attitude I’m going to have. And, honestly, this is the only attitude that can potentially save you… After all, if you can’t beat them, join them.
The changes they want to perform in our corporations are interesting and will help that corporation be better positioned in the market. I am not stupid. I know that for a company to survive, it must evolve and restructure once in a while. I like that company. I like the people there and I’m a problem-solver and someone very polyvalent. I’m going to try to convince them that I’m a good resource to keep and I’ll do my best to prove it and play the game.
But… in the end, they might cut my job anyway… Time will tell.
For sure, if I would have 25000$ in dividend income right now, I wouldn’t be that scared. I’d tell myself “you know what buddy, what will happen will happen and that’s it”. I’d feel more free and less stressed.
This situation is convincing me that what I do with this blog, with my plan, with this dividend growth investing thing and with this passive income goal I have set for myself is the thing to do. I have to buy my own freedom in order to stop being the potential victim of this new era. When you let others decide and have power over your life, they might take decisions that will favor them more than they will favor you…
I already said that I consider myself a gladiator. I am in the arena fighting for my own freedom. It’s an everyday fight and this event is no different than many other fights I have faced and won in the past! I will do my best to win again. Wish me luck!
And let me end this post with one of my favorite quotes from George Orwell :
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
Big Brother is watching you.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://quityourdayjob101.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ID-10050051.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi, my name is Allan. I’m the masked blogger. Like you I’m a modern slave, prisoner of a 9@5 job in Corporate America. They told us when we were young that we would live in a society of leisure and that technology would permit us to work only a couple of hours per day. But we live in a society of stress and uncertainty. My situation could be a lot worse and I know it. So many humans are suffering on this planet. But a golden cage remains a cage anyway. At least, I have an escape plan. I will retire before 45 years old over my passive income. This is a dream that is so powerful that I will make sure it happens. To build my wealth, I mainly invest in undervalued dividend growth stocks. [/author_info] [/author]
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