Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pinch and Polish

A few weeks ago, my boss let me know that if we didn't pick up several new contracts in the next month or so, then one of my staff was likely to be laid off.

We'd furloughed most of our installations crew already ("furlough" being corporate doublespeak for "non-optional vacation without pay"), and reading between the lines, I got the impression that my boss was holding off even more massive layoffs with everything he had, but that corporate was starting to get more and more insistent.

I believe that the slender thread of hope for us rested on the big proposal I worked back in April and May. While it wasn't big enough to keep us going on its own, if we won that contract, it would give us enough work to keep everyone limping along while we scrambled for another contract or two to make us all actually safe.

I found out yesterday that we didn't win that contract. The company that got it underbid us by a huge margin, so honestly, I think we were doing well to still be in the final round. Though that's not really a consolation to the people who are about to lose their jobs.

I found out today that the layoffs are even more imminent than I expected. I figured they'd drag my boss back in from vacation today to make the decisions (or sign off on them, if corporate decided to get the bit in their teeth and do it for him) and then it would take about two weeks to push the paperwork through. But apparently the decisions have already been made, as a contingency. So most likely the layoffs will happen at the end of this week or the beginning of next.

Layoffs always suck, no matter which side of them you're on. I'm very slightly comforted by the fact that it wasn't my call -- no one asked me which of my staff to sacrifice. I'm feeling miserable for those who are about to be dropped, and relieved that my job is fairly secure, along with a healthy chunk of survivor's guilt.

Though for that matter, if corporate got the bit in its teeth, there's a small but nonzero chance that I won't be one of the survivors -- we recently promoted one of my staff with the intention of training her to take over some of my functions, so it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that corporate looked at the bottom lines and decided to lay me off and leave it to her to put the pieces back together. I don't think that's the way my boss would go, if they gave him a choice, but corporate does not appreciate me the way he does, and they've done that kind of thing before.

I don't deal with the financial stuff, so I don't know how many people we'll have to lose -- but I do know that we only have about ten contracts at the moment, and half of those are only employing about two people each. (We usually have around fifteen contracts, each of which supports about five people.) I also know that several of those are going to dry up and blow away at the end of the fiscal year. So, layoffs now or not, if we don't get some substantial contracts in here in the next couple of months, the whole office could dry up and blow away before the end of the year.

Might be time for me to polish my resume, and start considering options.

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