7. Accounting; your future is decided in a meeting you’re not a part of?

In this meeting; should we will discuss cost reduction?

This is not a cheap shot at the redundancy processes; this usually happens as a result of a few things: Economic climate, consumers wanting cheaper products, competition, shareholders, expired staff or increased costs.

I’ll explain expired/expensive staff; in some cases the redundancy process is used to clear out dead wood (team deemed not fit for purpose)/expensive employees.

The other side to this is where staff have become too expensive, you tend to find this when a member of staff has been in the company and same position for a number of years, as each year passes they will get annual pay rises/cost of living increases; usually they are also on an older contract with more generous terms, this could be higher bonus percentage or better employee perks than newer contract offer.

The process to get rid of these type of employees is change the JD enough (I think it is 40%) and rename their position, let them apply and say they were unsuccessful give them their redundancy pay and hire some new staff who will be doing the exact same job (yes this really happens).

The meeting you’re not a part of?

A high level meeting happens and a decision is made; rumours swirl around the office then the departmental meetings happen and you are told something along the lines of ‘restructure or transformation’ and the consultation period starts.

I’ve been in accounting for over ten years in both the public and private sectors and I can tell you, I’ve seen this happen over 7 times with some brutal outcomes when all the chaos is going on people usually fall into two simple groups: those who want the pay out and those who rant to remain.

An example I have of those who wanted the pay out:

The organisation I was working for at the time, decided to do a restructure (of finance) and offered people within the department an opportunity to apply for voluntary severance, this was to be looked at on a case by case basis, forms were emailed saying the inbox for the forms would be opened on xyz so please ensure you email you forms in on this date or before closing date on xyz.

The day arrived when the mailbox would become available; at 14:30 it went live, for the next few moments my department proceeded to sound like a mouse/keyboard orchestra, clatter, clatter, clatter, click, click, click! It was hilarious! EVERYONE WANTED OUT with the golden handshake, heck; even those who just about qualified for redundancy were like ‘YES PLEASE, get me out of here!!!’ could you imagine the shock on their faces when they checked the mailbox 10 minutes later; unfortunately due to the flash flood no one got the voluntary severance.

An example I have of those who want to remain:

A colleague of mine in HR was put on the chopping block, the worry, stress and anxiety this caused him was horrific, he was a mature employee and that combined with him being he was married with kids and a mortgage just put him in a state, to make matters worse this was the ONLY organisation he had ever worked for; he was devoted first to arrive last to leave type of guy and now he was being shown the door; in the end he accepted another role within the organisation for a significantly lower salary, the sheer thought of having to go on the market especially during that period terrified him and honestly even though I felt he was hard done by, I was relieved for him when he got the post.

That was the first time I saw an employee who worked for a company all their lives put on the chopping block, but it was not the last.

Their futures were decided in a meeting they were not a part of; which is a terrifying thought but seeing this process over and over taught me a few things.

As anyone can be replaced, to put yourself in a strong position whether you leave or stay you need to ensure three things: you’re progressing, your skills are always up to date (learning new skills) and you maintain relationships.

Although for some (definitely not all) the desire to progress is natural, your aim should be to be part of those meetings where futures are decided, naturally this is just not going to be a possibility for all as simple maths says there will always be more people than management posts (or even jobs for that fact).

Always keep your eye on the job market; even if you do not intend to leave; you need to know what skills other employees are looking for and how many of those you don’t have? Once that’s clear make a plan to get them; attached to this is following the trends; if you know outsourcing or automation is coming for particular positions, follow the progress of them, it will keep you ahead of the curve and allow you to adjust.

If a new software is coming out and they have managed to bag similar customers particularly if they are in the same industry as you; try and get a hands on with it; if it has features that can do what you’re doing more efficiently how brilliant will you be for getting this implemented at your current employer? Plus on the CV you can add this software which opens you up to a broader range of employees.

If you are this way inclined only; stay networking, go to networking events and conferences particularly in your field make connection and keep them; you’ll never know when they will lead, it also pays to build connections with people outside of your department as that person who works in HR might move onto another company and if they are recruiting for a position you do…. wallah!

It is crucial you are always updating your skills to what the market wants, once upon a time being able to open a spread sheet was enough but now? The minimum is often Pivot tables and Vlookups.

Whenever you get a job, keep this in the back of your mind:

A company owes you nothing more than they are legally obliged to, i.e. just because you worked your backside off for 10 years, put in late nights, come in on weekends and cancelled holidays; it means nothing when costs have got to be cut. If costs can be cut they often will be, it is NOT personal or a reflection on you, customers want cheaper products, a rival has achieved this by cutting costs in xyz area, to stay competitive they will need respond which could result in your role being axed.



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