Monday, 31 December 2012

Good-Bye 2012 – You Were Quite the Year


As the end of one year ends, and another begins, many of us reflect on the past, as we look towards the future.

For me, 2012 was a challenging, trying and at times epic year of life altering experiences.

As our economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, and business and political leaders continue to apply outdated, old school, band-aid solutions in a rush to keep us all from falling over the fiscal cliff, it’s time for us to re-think our world, and our way of living in it.

The fiscal cliff isn't just an American catchphrase for economic pot holes – it’s a good way of describing the new economy of an ever more frightening world in which to live.

Major corporations, once the cornerstone for economic prosperity and security in most of the world are no longer that stable or secure employer they once were.

One used to graduate from high school, get an entry level gig at one of these big major corporations, such as General Motors, General Electric, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, American Express, even McDonald’s, and over time, work one’s way to the top.

Not anymore.
A job for life at a big American company, with benefits, and regular salary increases to keep pace with the cost of living isn't the American Dream – it’s just a dream.

Although the economy is growing globally, it’s actually shrinking in the process. Companies may offer their products and services all over the world now, but few of them are hiring people at decent wages with quality benefits anymore.

Gone are the days when you could get a job where your employer actually gave a damn about your quality of life. All they care about is their own bottom line – regardless of the fact that a staff constantly worried about paying their bills, doesn't do their jobs as effectively.

When I worked at one of the largest financial institutions – one of the top five banks in Canada – I saw just how employee loyalty does not go both ways.

My team’s Project Manager had been with the bank for over 35 years – for some that is a lifetime. She was exceptional at what she did, I considered myself very lucky to have her on my team. At the end of a bank-wide project, her boss told her that her services were no longer required, and they’d give her six-months to find another role within the bank, and then they’d just give her a severance package and send her on her way.
This was the way the bank forced people that cost too much out. Obviously my Project Manager wasn't going to find another role at the same pay scale she was used to – when have you ever seen a job posting requiring 35 years of experience?

And even if she bit the bullet, and was willing to accept a lower pay just to keep a job for a thankless employer, hiring managers would look down at her, and wonder how loyal she would remain, doing the same thing for a fraction of what she previously was being paid.

This was how one of the largest banks in Canada, retired my team’s Project Manager. And its how many big businesses force long-term employees to retire.

Loyalty.

That’s a tricky word in today’s business world.

Used to be if you worked hard, went the extra mile to impress your boss, then over time, you’d get promoted, not retired.

I've known many people that had dedicated most of their adult lives to one big corporate employer, only in the end to be let go, simply because they got promoted too often and became too expensive to keep.

2012 was the year that I learned the hard way just how hard work, dedication and loyalty to your employer doesn't matter. In the end, you really are just a dollar figure to your boss.

The bean counters think it’s only a matter of dollars to replace someone with years of experience, contacts, and know-how with a recent college graduate.

And that’s why our economy is really falling apart. Studies show wages continue to fall, while the costs of living continue to rise.

Especially as our population ages, and more of those long-term, dedicated and loyal employees find themselves dumped by their disloyal employers.

The new kids they replace long-term employees with don’t make enough to make major purchases to keep the wheels of the economy moving.

How many twenty-something’s do you know have their own mortgage?

In order to get over the fiscal cliff, big businesses need to get over their fear of paying people what they are worth. They need to stop seeing their staff as numerical figures on a balance sheet, and start seeing them for what they really are.

The very same people that keep the economy moving – earning a decent living, and spending that living – well – living. 

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