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Work isn’t what it used to be

with 2 comments

But was it ever?

Yesterday I ran into a friend and colleague from a medical device company we both worked at. He’s still there but said 70 percent of his staff was recently laid off, which mirrors what I had heard from other parts of the company. My friend surprised me by saying most of the jobs had gone overseas. He also said the expertise of the replacements was noticeably sub-par.

Sour grapes? Maybe. Maybe not. We already know that people with experience cost more to hire and keep then people without experience. This is good news for people wanting into an industry. This is not-so-good news for those invested in life with one company. But life in one company—was that ever a realistic expectation? I grew up thinking that was the norm. Dad worked for IBM and IBM never laid people off. Until they did.

My own decades of work experience show companies large and small shucking employees as a natural part of the business cycle. It came to be an expected—if morose—part of all my generation’s experience. Without exception. Human capital is still, well, capital.

From all our political talk about “Jobs!” you might expect the return of those old high-paying jobs you stay at until you wake up dead at your desk one day. Those days are gone. Today the best offense and defense are the same: anticipate change. Build bridges with people. Sharpen skills.


Image Credit: Never Rider via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm

2 Responses

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  1. …uhmmm – words to the wise. However, broken social contracts should not be the norm. The “new reality” may actually be pretty old reality; that is, a dominance of society and wealth by the few holding the cards. Johnny Hart – Kingdom of Id; Golden Rule. He who has the gold, makes the rules. They stay put, where ever today’s whim places that, the rest of us shuffle around until we shuffle off to Buffalo (which, by all accounts, has a more challenging winter season that the prairies of Minnesota).

    Wendell Geary

    October 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    • Wendell–well said. I particularly like the notion that “broken social contracts should not be the norm.” I will note that the contract between employer and employee has been “at will” for some time. I think our fathers and mothers were mistaken when they read “for life” into their work. On the other hand, what would reconciled or redeemed work (to use a churchy word) look like? Finding ways to serve would be key, i think. Thanks for reading.


      October 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

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