#5: Off-Limits Jokes Are Now Acceptable
Normally, you don't hear people joking about leaving the company, especially when important people are sitting in the room. With the looming cloud of layoffs hanging overhead, that stigma has evaporated, creating a very entertaining atmosphere at the office. Wednesday's staff meeting (the day after the announcement) included some fantastic jokes that would have been taboo just two days earlier.
One of the managers was joking about his frustration with Spring Plan (well documented on this blog) and mentioned that he had moved passed the anger stage. The division VP asked, "what stage are you in now?" He immediately replied, "the resume-polishing stage!" Later, another manager joked that we could all start responding to those annoying voicemails that we all get from local headhunters. A timely comment, since the day of the restructuring announcement, I received a LinkedIn message and a voicemail from an annoying headhunter who had heard the news and was anxious to point out that it's "good to have a backup plan in place in times like these." Delete...and delete.
#4: Deciphering The Corporate Spin
When it comes right down to it, we all know that "corporate restructuring" means nothing more than laying people off to cut costs. It just really isn't any more complicated than that. But if you want humor and entertainment, the official press release is a fantastic read--I couldn't have dreamed up a more long-winded way of saying "we're laying people off to cut costs." The corporate PR staff deserves a pat on the back for their efforts to put a positive spin on positively bad news. Sifting through the overblown language in that press release feels like solving a riddle littered with corporate buzzwords. My favorites include, but are not limited to:
- "Improve organizational effectiveness..."
- "Better align resources with..."
- "Accelerate efficiencies..."
- "Focus on key growth strategies..."
- "Fundamental shift in the business environment..."
- "Major productivity and cost savings initiative..."
#3: Parking Ramp Paradise
It's was impressive how quickly everyone's mind latched onto the one upside of the layoffs: a 10% reduction in the workforce means that parking spaces in the ramp will be easier to come by--and much more desirable--than tickets to a WMBA game. By the time winter rolls around, those of us still with the company will be thanking corporate leaders for this whole restructuring thing. These days, the ramp is so packed that if you hit a few long red lights on the drive to work and arrive a minute later than you planned, you'll face a 15 minute death march from the far reaches of the parking lot to the main entrance. In about five weeks, it looks like I'll have one less reason to show up at the office on time...
#2: Fantasy HR
Fantasy sports are a popular topic around the office--it's tough to take more than a few steps down the rows of cubicles without overhearing guys talking about their favorite teams, highlights from the previous night's games, or pending trades in their fantasy leagues. With five weeks of waiting and wondering who's going to get the boot, a few coworkers have tossed around the idea of setting up a friendly wager via some kind of office pool. Each of us would serve as the HR manager of a fantasy team of office workers, placing bets on who stays and who goes, with odds for each employee. The details are still fuzzy at this point, but I imagine this game could merge the fun of a game of corporate Survivor with the excitement and rivalry of fantasy sports.
#1: Public Performance Appraisals!
During the Q&A session at the end of one of those "mandatory business updates," someone asked whether the layoffs would be based on performance or position. Unlike the world of real estate, in this case it's not all about "location, location, location"; the division president responded by saying that the layoffs would be based on a combination of performance and potential. That's a double-edged sword that offers reasons to feel both comfort and panic if you give it much thought.
For people who feel confident that they're doing their jobs well, it's spectacular news to hear that they won't get axed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the other hand, those who do receive the dreaded pink slip have no way to rationalize their misfortune--they'll know that they got fired not only because they sucked at their job, but also because the people they worked with decided there was no hope for improvement. And when they mysteriously disappear from the office in five weeks, everyone who ever interacted with them will be fully aware of those shortcomings. Can you say, "embarrassing exit?"
And there you have it--the top ten reasons why the next five weeks will be one heck of a good time!