What would you do?

When there's a big or biggish decision to be made, my habit is to sort through the situation by laying everything out in words. Tonight I’m doing that, and sharing the words. This is me, unscrewing the top of my head and showing you what's inside.

It's barely for publication, though. Click away now if you wish, and I won’t think less of you. I couldn’t possibly think less of you.

Here’s the situation:

I’ve sometimes referred to the place where I work as Mayberry RFD. It’s a mid-sized insurance company that has, generally, done the right thing all through its history. When I was offered the job, one of the vice presidents told me with a smile that the company had never done layoffs. That’s true, and it’s an old company — they went through two world wars, the Great Depression, and a lot of little recessions, and never laid off an employee.

Beyond that, there were company picnics (I never went, but I like the idea), surprise days off with pay were occasionally handed out, and they always tried to do promotions from within — virtually everyone in management started as an entry-level employee. They had a pension plan. There were annual profit-sharing bonuses, and after one particularly good year, without warning, without anyone asking, the company doubled everyone’s annual bonus — for me, that was several thousand dollars out of the blue. It’s a 2020s company that treats employees and customers well, and does business the old-fashioned way.

Or it used to be. A couple of years ago, our CEO retired, and for the first time in the company’s long history, instead of promoting someone to CEO, a new chief executive was hired from outside the firm. Things changed immediately, and the changes keep coming. And they're not changes for the better.

The new CEO was introduced at a big company-wide meeting, and in his opening remarks describing himself, his second or third sentence was, “I’m a proud Christian, an elder in my church…”. So I disliked him from the start. I’d be willing to reconsider, but haven’t seen any reasons to.

He immediately fired four executives, and replaced them with executives from the company where he’d worked before. In fairness I must say, three of those four were happy departures in my eyes — one was an obviously incompetent I.T. manager, and two were big-wig execs but nobody quite knew what they did. There were several more high-level shake-ups after that, though, and some of them I’ve known to be good people.

There are no longer company picnics. No surprise days off. The pension plan has been scuttled. Special bonuses that used to be paid on an employee’s 5-, 10-, and 20-year anniversaries have been ended. Annual bonuses continue, but the calculations behind them have been reworked, so bonuses are now several hundred dollars per employee, instead of a few thousand.

The new CEO also changed the company color scheme and logo, because, and I quote, “I really don’t like that color.” The old logo was ugly, but had a meaning behind it. The new logo is also ugly, but it means nothing — it's just a random swirl of color, sort of like the Nike swoosh. Two years after the logo switch, half our materials still have the old logo, and half have the new logo. I don't have an MBA, but I know that branding is important. We’ve changed our branding on the CEO's whim, and done a half-assed job of it.

The company is currently spending more than a million dollars remodeling the main office, removing most of the interior walls and reworking everything as wide-open spaces. I’ve never worked in an open office, so I dunno, maybe it’ll be fantastic, but the expense seems nutty when there’s a hiring freeze that’s left most departments short-staffed.

We’ve always prided ourselves on excellent customer service — new policies were mailed within 72 hours, and claims were paid within 48 hours unless there’s something disputed. New policies and claims are now averaging about two weeks, and customer complaints are way up. 

My favorite warning signal was my last performance review. This is not me shining my own apple, it’s just the numbers: My team has been reduced by attrition from six people to four, so you’d expect each of us to do about about 25% of the work. I do more than half the work, and also have the lowest error rate. For this, I was given a raise of $500 per year. That works out to about 24¢ per hour. I got a larger raise when I worked at McDonald’s in the late 1970s.

The first round of layoffs was announced a week ago. All the employees who handle and sort incoming documents — everything received by mail, fax, or electronically — are gone. Instead all the documents for this company will be handled by the lowest-bidding outside firm, staffed by people who won’t know the intricacies of the myriad different forms and where they’re routed, and won’t have an employee’s incentive to get things sorted correctly. Remember, we’re an insurance company, so there are huge numbers of documents. To my knowledge, about six (6) documents have been lost by our documents team in the eight years I’ve been working here. That number is going to skyrocket when we no longer have a documents team.

Gotta tip my hat to the new CEO, though — in just two years, he’s converted us from Mayberry RFD to a company like any other company.

And now, I’m pretty sure my team is next to be eliminated. We audit and process paperwork, and doublecheck other teams’ work, finding and correcting hundreds of errors daily, some of which could be quite expensive if uncorrected. To someone six stories above us, though, we must look like an unjustified expense. 

Which brings me to tonight: I’m arguing with myself, whether to quit before I’m fired. To be (laid off), or not to be (laid off). 

The arguments for quitting now:
• I could find another job fairly easily.
• I could leave with a touch of dignity.
• My absence would hurt them, and I think management would be surprised at how much it hurts.
• If I wait to be laid off on their timeline, obviously, it won’t hurt them at all. 

The arguments for waiting until I’m laid off:
• Nobody’s going to pay me as well as I’m paid now — I’ve accumulated years of raises where I’m at.
• I’d probably be without health insurance, at least for a while, which is a risk at my age.
• I’ve been working from home for 15 months, but a new job would probably want me to commute again. Sigh.
• Worst of all, I’d have to go through the annoyance of rewriting a resumé, and applying for jobs, and interviews, and learning new procedures, and working with new people, and all that crap.

Of course, the arguments for waiting are all inevitable — they’ll happen either way, whether I quit, or whether I'm laid off. 

So I reckon it comes down to one question: Do I want to leave on my own terms, when doing so will cost me some serious money?

And that's what's in my head tonight. Usually I ask people to butt out, but if you've read the mess above, feel free to offer an opinion. What would you do?



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  1. I would send out some resumes, get some feelers out, basically find a new job, and quit.
    I hate when new bosses do this shite, so I'd choose to quit on my own terms.

    1. So noted and appreciated, and this is what I'm probably doing (though I reserve the right to chicken out like the coward I usually am).

  2. Now is your golden moment, dude. They've done everythying except give you 2 weeks notice. You should get your resume out there and jump as soon as you have someplace to land.

    1. Thanks for the words and weighing in. The moment doesn't feel golden yet, but I can make it golden.

  3. Captain HampocketsJune 10, 2021 at 5:11 AM

    Start looking for jobs, maybe. But I think you have savings, and can weather a storm for a while.

    But NEVER, EVER quit if you think you're liable to be fired without cause. If they fire you with no misconduct on your part, you can possibly get unemployment. If you quit, that's less likely.

    1. Captain HampocketsJune 10, 2021 at 5:11 AM

      To amed that - if you DO find a different job that is acceptable to you, buy all means, yes, quit.

  4. Walk away. Life is too short.

    1. I've given myself the weekend to think it over, but I can't see myself staying until the end, until my job is eliminated. I'm quitting. The question is just how quickly I'm quitting.


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