My Company Needs More Money

I want the company I work at (hereafter known as “The Company”) to do well. After all, if The Company does well and I continue to perform well, my job is secure. However, I start having problems with The Company when things are reportedly going well as far as the public knows, but privately, there are desperate measures being taken to increase profits.

The CEO of the company (hereafter known as “The Man”) was recently reported to have made some $19 million dollars for 2006. Personally, I don’t have a problem with The Man making whatever he makes providing I’m paid what I’m worth and my work is appreciated. The Man made this much money because, according to the AP, The Company had some record profits last year and a rebound in its stock prices.

Well, stock prices are up, but only after having been driven way down by The Man. They still aren’t even close to being what they were just before The Man took over. That’s something that still irks many long-time employees who remember the high stock price.

However, the thing that has employees REALLY irked is how after supposedly having record profits, The Company is embarking on a “Skinny Project” to cut costs and increase profits. If profits were so good, why is The Company so desperate to cut costs? Maybe there’s some WorldCom type stuff going on with the books.

Ever since I started with The Company as a contractor, The Company, under the brilliant leadership of The Man, has always seemed less interested in getting new customers and keeping the ones we have paying, but rather they’ve seemed to have as their top priority, “How can we cut more of our costs?” Indeed, a month after I started working at The Company, they forced a 5% pay-cut upon all contractors. Officially, The Company can say, “We didn’t cut your pay, your contract company did. All we did was cut how much we paid your company.” However, lets face it; contract companies are in the business to make money and if you cut them 5%, they have to pass that along to keep their own profit margins.

Because I’m a great worker, my contract company gave me a raise before I’d even been there a year, more then overcoming the cut I’d taken. However, about one year after the last cut, The Company pushed another 5% cut on the contractors. Needless to say, contractors were livid! With the improving job market (and I suspect fear of contractor sabotage), The Company informed contract companies that there would be no additional cuts. They were true to their word. Praise to The Man! Praise to The Company! BONSAI! BONSAI! BONSAI!

However, The Company lost a legal battle and were forced to pay thousands of workers back overtime pay while changing them from salaried to hourly employees. Working a 4-3 12-hour work schedule (4 days working, 3 days off, 3 days working, 4 days off), the company now had to pay a lot of overtime to its employees. For some accounts, certain employees were making more money than their manager due to overtime.

So in year three, The Company needed a new cost-cutting scheme to go along with the various outsourcing they were doing to India and Brazil (where the support work is exactly what they paid for — cheap…no offense to the nice people working there). So, The Company took 25% to 30% of various operations groups and declared them to be Level 1 Support. The remaining lucky were classified as Level 2 Support. The Company sent many of its long-time employees who were making too much money to Level 1, then a month or so later, told them they had a month to find a new job or they would be let go. At the same time, a hiring freeze was put in place. Naturally, the result was a lot of highly-paid Company people were let go (though to be fair, some of these people were dead weight). That’s one way to reduce costs.

It was then that I, through my contract company, transfered to another department that was the rising star of The Company. This new department wasn’t subject to The Company’s ramped cost-cutting measures and despite having a VERY difficult boss, the job was a very good one on many levels. In fact, The Company had many TV ads about the overall group of which my department was a part.

However, The Company decided that low-paid contractors were still making too much money. So they forced us all to take a week off without pay, then gave us weird 40-hour schedules (remember, we work in a department where things are done on 12-hour shifts) so that they could remove our 16-hours of overtime a month. That lasted several weeks.

Further, The Company decided that our group was rogue and MUST be brought under the rules of The Company to include cost-cutting initiatives they’d implimented. So, to get us into a Level 1/Level 2 scheme, they merged my department with another department, who worked many of the same accounts as us, only supported different components. That made sense to me to merge us because of the overlap. But now with two departments as one, 25% of the team could be sent to Level 1.

Year 4 saw more stuff go to India and Brazil, but The Company needed more. So, the Company decided to have an exclusive contract with a single contract company to save costs. As such, Level 1 Support saw a downward push in pay and as people quit, they were replaced with even cheaper labor so that this contract company could make money. While The Company could now claim cost-savings all over the U.S. because of this scheme, the hideous stupidity of the scheme came to life as these poorly paid, “I don’t give a smeg” people came in to do this Level 1 work. Instead, the Level 2 people ended up doing most of it.

Year 5 then saw The Company decide to this “Skinny Project” to further cut costs. Using assembly line work as their basis (we are an IT company), the Skinny Project attempted to cut costs by shuffling staff when it was most busy. Unfortunately, in the IT world, predicting when things will be busy isn’t so simple. One day it could be dead and the next you could get your tail kicked because it’s so busy. There’s no pattern to it.

Undeterred, The Company decided to eliminate the Level 1/Level 2 scheme and so everyone who worked Level 1 lost their job. Then they removed a large number of additional contractors from various teams to further reduce costs. And still, The Company demanded more.

So, multiple teams who work the same rotation as I over several command centers are being forced to come in on our day off as a new phase of Skinny Project is enacted. We wonder what hair brained scheme The Company has come up with now. One theory is that The Company will do some things to force people to quit. Another theory is that The Company will eliminate dedicated support for accounts while continuing to charge those customers dedicated rates.

I suspect they will attempt to merge unrelated departments into a single group. Then, they will force cross-training where people will have to remember ever nuance for all these unrelated accounts (different groups have different rules on how to run issues, depending on the contracts signed). This would be done so that they can eliminate overtime payments by having people work 8-hour shifts. The fact that you’ll have jacks of all trades, masters of none won’t matter because on paper, The Company is saving money. However, as customer support goes down the drain and customers start to leave, The Company’s schemes won’t be the fault.

Well, nothing to do but wait and see what crap The Company pushes on us. I guess I need to dust off the old resume, eh?

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