Posted by: Kim | June 18, 2006

What’s up with Corporate America? (Yet another rant)

Well, I have to say that I've heard enough from others in my immediate circle to know that I am not the only corporate slave looking to break out of the shackles, and for even better reasons than mine!  When I hear stories like these, I have to ask myself if the direction that we're all headed in with respect to careers is the right one.  Check this out:

  • My best friend, who has worked at the same insurance company for 12 years, had her annual performance review this month.  She received "exceeds expectations" across the board on all categories.  In the same meeting, she is then told that she makes too much money and she should expect a pay cut.
  • My sister has worked for a small medical research outfit for 2 1/2 years.  She commuted cross-country from Seattle to Minneapolis every other week for two of those years.  She finally moved her family to MN last fall, and now the VC-dependent firm's board accepted a buyout offer that will lead them to shut the doors in two weeks.  The employees will only receive their accrued personal time off and their computers to take home—no severance pay to speak of.  Any common stock options given as incentive are worthless.

I could also share some personal experiences of my own, but I will withhold them, considering I'm still employed for at least another two weeks!

What has this world come to?  Are employees worth nothing to corporations—commodities to be bought, traded and sold like cattle?  I have personally seen the erosion at my own company; employees are working longer hours, receive irregular pay raises, and take on more work as personnel departures are not backfilled.  Yet the cost of living rises around us all, exceeding most annual pay increases.  Public companies are driven by the stockholder and the bottom line.  We, as managers, are pushed to constantly increase the EBIT percentage.  Most of us spend our time looking at the financials and wondering at what point is the balance sheet going to appear attractive enough for us to be sold?  While the architects of the deal walk away with their bag of $$, the rest of us are left standing and wondering if our jobs will be intact with the next owner.  Yes, I've experienced this before.

So what can we do about this?  Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Support your local small businesses.  The vast majority of people running their own shop/business will never become rich.  I know—I grew up with parents that ran two businesses.  Mom-and-Pop shops are losing ground each day to the Wal-Marts, Barnes & Nobles, and Home Depots.
  • Support companies that practice corporate responsibility and provide employee-friendly incentives and work environment.  By giving these businesses your hard-earned money, you send the message that their corporate mission statement means more than just words on a piece of paper.

How better to send the message by NOT giving the bad guys your hard-earned money?

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