Owe You? Not!

The past several years have been pretty tough on most folks. With the economy and overall job stability being what it is, I have spent some time listening and talking to other folks about their situation.  Many have asked me, “How have you lasted that long?” or “Would you ever do anything else?” Instead of me stepping in and answering those questions, I try to understand why they are asking them. There is always something deeper than the questions asked. Some of them are simple – they have just lost their jobs after many years at their employer, are about to lose their jobs or looking to change careers. More and more folks are having to deal with this reality.  Hard working folks that were probably told (as I was growing up) that if you work hard and do your best, you will be rewarded by the company you work for. For the most part I agree with that sentiment. The part that I have come to understand better is that the company owes you nothing. I am a dying breed. Those that go to college, land a job with an medium to large enterprise and work there till retirement. Maybe the times have changed because the companies have changed, the employee’s have changed or economic forces are forcing the change. Whatever the reason, the one fact that reminds is the company owes you nothing.

Loyalty is a dangerous thing. Many folks have the mindset that I work hard and the company will take care of me. Well, maybe in the short term. That just is not the case. Many folks are losing their jobs to cheaper labor costs. Is their loyalty there? Some businesses within a large company are being sold off or just closed. Loyalty to the employee’s? I happened to spend some time with a friend that lost their job, along with the rest of the employee’s that worked with him. Months leading up to the that wonderful day, he had offers from other company’s but decided that he was going to be taken care of by his current employer. The company discussed severance packages, potential other jobs within the company and how he was doing a great job during some difficult times. What did he get in the end? Well, he lost his job, but did get a small severance package. The other jobs that he turned down to remain were all filled. Lesson here is – always look after number one, yourself (and your family, if you have one).

People have the right to be treated fairly, but the company does not have to go beyond what is legally required. Loyalty sometimes can cost you (as mentioned above). Be aware of your surroundings. Ask those burning questions that you need to ask. Don’t be afraid. Answers may not come, but at least you now have some data points as to how this is going. Times have changed, people need to change with those times. Everyone should always work hard and do their best – that will keep you employed better than not working hard. Fact is, that does not mean you will have a job till you are ready to retire. Just means you are working hard for that paycheck that you take home today.

Following my example or listening to why I have lasted as long as I have is not what I would want to hear. What I need is to be reminded, that I need to look out for myself (and my family). They are the important ones. The company (I hope) will try their best, but they really don’t owe you anything.