This article relates to the Job Security competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. After a large scale cut in personnel, this particular group of employees needed some extra support. Examining the issue of job security measures how your employees view their job security within your organization. In today's often volatile or contingent labor market, it's crucial to understand the level of security your employees feel about maintaining their jobs. Studies show that employees who do not feel secure in their jobs are less likely to be committed to best assisting customers. Evaluating this competency can be especially useful if your organization has suffered recent layoffs or firings.
This short story, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales From the Corporate Frontlines. It illustrates how a group of employees who survived downsizing dealt with their own fear and uncertainty and received help from management to get back on track and move forward.
I never thought much about job security until a few weeks ago, when our company announced a 15% reduction in workforce. That simple number translated into half of my department. It wasn't a total surprise-I work in an industry that has been losing jobs to overseas outsourcing for a few years now. Sooner or later, our company would have to cut to stay competitive.
The remaining half of the department operated in a fog. Supervisors tried to reorganize the workload. I spent my time and energy trying to figure out my new responsibilities and learn about the new customers added to my roster.
Then I began to overhear conversations. Cubicles are close, and when people speak loudly, well, you know... I heard the guy next to me speaking with one of his "new" customers, introducing himself. He was faced, as we all were, with the task of explaining what had happened to their prior reps. "Yes, gone" I heard him say bluntly. "Yes, I'll do what I can to serve you, but who knows how long I'll be here... I could be next. You know, here today, gone tomorrow."
For a week or so, those words reverberated around the department. It seemed that the remaining employees had to voice their fear. I felt as though somehow, if I voiced that fear to a customer, my termination would surely come to pass. I wondered what the customers thought about these conversations. Did they hang up and begin a search for back up suppliers in case our company folded suddenly? Did they assume that our prices would increase?
One afternoon, as the after lunch service calls began and the "here today, gone tomorrow" chorus was gaining momentum, I saw a supervisor stroll nonchalantly among the cubicles, listening. Finally! This had to stop. He left the department abruptly, and 30 minutes later, we received an e-mail to be in our manager's office, first thing in the morning for a meeting.
It was a short meeting, but it told us what we needed to know. The worst was over. There was no reason to think that there would be more layoffs, anytime soon. If anything, our positions were more secure now than they were before. Business appeared to be on the upswing, and it was more important than ever to keep our current customers happy. To do this, the here today, gone tomorrow conversations would have to end immediately, our manager said, with a twinkle in his eye. We'll get through this, he told us, but we needed everyone to be at top performance level.
It was a wonderful talk. It was the best he could do, as no one can promise permanent job security forever. But it was just enough to silence the chorus of the cynics and keep our customer base growing. I, for one, am extremely grateful.
© 2005 AlphaMeasure, Inc. - All Rights Reserved
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
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