His tenure at his company was approaching 35 years, and a well funded retirement and pension were just around the corner. He sacrificed for the company, and they paid him for it. It wasn’t just him who enjoyed this relationship, his wife also worked for the same company for 25 years and was looking forward to her pension as retirement was just around the corner.
However, this match made in heaven was about to end abruptly. It all started when my former employer was brought in to the company to help implement some systematic improvements to make their warehouses better (consulting lingo). As a consulting firm usually does, they continued finding work for the company while looking for areas to expand their presence and increase sales.
They soon found the answer: outsource the IT department to my firm; who, in turn would decrease costs by outsourcing the jobs to India. It’s a common model many companies have used the last decade.
Bob was a Director in the IT department. Now that the entire department was outsourced to my firm, his employer changed and so did the benefits he would receive during retirement. That’s right, he and his wife would no longer get the pensions they were ready to start collecting on because now they worked for a new company.
The meaning of a combined 60 years of service between the two was discarded like I’d throw away a used napkin. Their dreams of a well-funded retirement were quickly erased – both of them. Even worse, their new assignments was to teach the team in India how to do their jobs… which clearly meant they wouldn’t have jobs much longer.
All in the name of profits. In the name of maximizing shareholder value.
Do I fault my company or the other company for taking their employees through this painful experience? At a personal level, yes. However, as long as we want to enjoy the benefits of capitalism, this is going to happen.
The goal of a company is to increase shareholder value, and this is done simply by increasing sales or cutting costs. Is it a company’s job to look after the stakeholders too – the families and communities support by the work – or should they focus solely on maximizing shareholder value? If they want to keep Wall Street – and their shareholders happy – they are forced to do what’s best for the shareholders. Otherwise the CEO and management team will be replaced by someone else who will do it. I think it’s crap, but it’s reality.
In the end, it should remind you not to put all your eggs in one basket, and to not trust your current employer to take care of you for life. As I’ve previously mentioned, you are now a consultant and you should always work to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting what you need out of your job, and set yourself up for success in the future.