CHAPTER 1: The problem with regular jobs
Section 7: Right sizing or wrong results?
In an effort to safeguard the bottom line as much as possible, many corporations began the process of resizing themselves in order to minimize the negative impact of economic downturns. The terminology that arose was telling in and of itself: downsizing, rightsizing, re-engineering. The emphasis was on the corporation — a legal entity, an inanimate thing — not on the employees, the lifeblood of human resources. If the emphasis was on the employees, the only appropriate term to use would have been lay-offs.
If, indeed, the emphasis were placed on employees, there might even be a way of not having to lay-off anyone, rather to rethink the reasons why the work is being done the manner it is, and explore the options to work smarter instead of work harder. Many organizational problems arise when the status quo is preferred even in changing times, when different societal circumstances and market conditions prevail. You can hear it in the justification, “But we’ve always done it this way.” Instead of cutting the workforce, the solution may very well be found in tapping into the resources of the humans that make up the organization.
Whatever the moniker used to justify restructuring, the reality remained that a lesser number of employees were expected to uphold the corporate mandate. In some instances, a fewer number of employees were expected to do more work per capita in order to maintain as much of the status quo as possible. The organizational impact of staff downsizing had to be minimized, but the bottom line results still had to be maximized. The modus operandi became “doing more with less.” In other words, the best interests of the stockholders typically override the best interests of the stakeholders.
To exacerbate the situation, many corporations did their best to appear conscientious in the way they treated their ex-employees, going to the point of spending huge sums of money on out-placement services and job retraining. Despite the economic downturn, an opportunity still existed for corporations to weave a public profile of social responsibility towards their former stakeholders, and seize the opportunity they did. In an ironic sense it begged the question, “What else could have been done with that money to avert the down-sizing to begin with?”
Fewer corporations spent as much money or effort in sustaining the employees who stayed behind. The expectations increased, but not necessarily the support systems. It’s all well and good for corporations to position themselves as being people-centered, and to then boast about it as if it were a public relations campaign, but although the intentions of the organizations may have been honorable, in many instances their practices fell dramatically short of the mark in terms of human needs. The truth is typically reflected much more significantly in actions than in words.
If the mantra “Beginning with the end in mind” has been an effective habit in certain circumstances, the reality of corporate life and some of the wrong results it generates for the people involved can only be summarized by inverting the mantra as follows: “Ending with the beginning in mind.” If working for a corporation means giving up your higher purpose for the benefit of someone else’s bottom line, then you want to seriously consider putting an end to the job mentality and beginning your quest for fulfillment via a lifework. Ending one reality can be the doorway to begin living your own dream.
How are you required to be “doing more with less”? With increased expectations, how does your employer support you in maximizing your work contributions?
In what ways have you sacrificed your higher purpose for the benefit of your employer’s bottom line?
Copyright © 2017, Joseph Civitella.