Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Good to be gone

I've been gone from my previous job for just a little over five years. As with all ex-jobs, there is always a period of time where you keep up with some of the goings-on and as time passes, it becomes less and less important to you, until one day, you find out you no longer care at all.

I'm not quite there yet.

One of my good friends, the Big Dog (BD), got pushed out of the corporate nest about three years ago in yet another "restructuring" move which allowed the company to juggle the numbers sufficiently to meet a short term objective. Doesn't really matter that they hired two people to replace him, only that they could show enough dollars 'below the line' to sufficiently mask the real cost of ongoing operations. And we won't even get into how many VPs they've added since they started cutting jobs.

But I digress. Even though BD doesn't work there anymore, his wife does. And so he's a good conduit of information on what's happening at the old company. Right before I left, they had a big corporate push to become one of the "Best 100 Companies" to work for. (Which started out as an attempt by one of the VPs to brown-nose the CEO and the CEO took it seriously, so naturally everybody else on the "team" jumped on board) Only one problem with being one of the Best 100, you're going to have to spend some money on your employees to get there. So you'll understand when I tell you that us long-timers were what you might call "skeptical." They even produced a video from the kick-off meeting and I was recruited to give a quote. The best I could come up with is that employees were "cautiously optimistic" about the initiative, not wanting to get their hopes up too high.

A year or so after I left, the bottom fell out of the stock price. Not long after that the "Best Company" initiatives started falling by the wayside. They were rolled out with much fanfare and died in silence. It is now taboo to even talk about "Best Company" there.

Yesterday I found out that they had another round of layoffs/retirements and were freezing enrollments in the stock purchase and 401K plans. With no advanced warning. Doesn't sound to me like a move a supposedly financially strong company would make. Unless they're shooting for another short-term goal at the expense of their long-term health. Again.

I don't know if anyone has a list of the Worst 100, but my old company would probably make a good case study.

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