Thursday, March 3, 2016

Living through a layoff

But what does being laid off feel like? It feels like you're being told the work you do is useless. That you are worth only the money they are offering, that you are no longer needed. Even through the knowledge that you will find something better, because everyone who is ambitious and enthusiastic and half-intelligent does...makes no difference in the feeling that you've lost your home and been kicked out. There is a very special, unique, gut-wrenching feeling of being told you're being made redundant. Logic does not usually help you through it.

There is something special about the ExNokian family that now exists worldwide. Practically all of us have been laid off or sold by now, and yet we all still gather together to discuss how things were, how amazingly privileged we were to work there with all those people. The products we worked on that failed but we are still proud of. Many of them have even admitted to me that their new jobs, though perhaps better paying and a step up...do not compare. There was something special about that group of people, and we all know it.

Perhaps it is that we all feel like we went to war together. So many friends and colleagues cut off and then brought in again for new tours of the tech battlefield we were so clearly losing for so long. We'd lose thousands every year just to have the best, brightest, and continually loyal come back to us. There was always that cycle of rebirth, that reassurance your favorite colleagues would return with the next round of posted jobs after having lost their current one. I am sure this is why this layoff, versus the many others before it, felt so particularly devastating. There would be no rebuilding of this ship, returning of lost colleagues. We were now all separate people, scattered across the world. A diaspora of those who used to be together.

I am sure many would claim we're all being melodramatic, that we should move on. And I'm sure to a degree they are very right. But it does feel, to so many of us, that we lost a family as well as a place of work. We spend so much of our lives at work, with our colleagues. Could it not make sense that we would emotionally attach to it in the same way?

I do hope other companies who come across us, the wandering nomads of former Nokia, take note. The loyalty and company allegiance I have seen compares to nothing else. Treating your employees well seems such an afterthought nowadays. Instead you get constant slogans of productivity and innovation. What about community? Dedication? Actual work-life balance? When did it become all about what you can wring from a person before they leave your employment? Goose was telling me that no one in his industry expects employees to stay more than two years. Because of this, they purposefully do not develop long term plans for employees. Whether that be in how they promote people, distribute benefits, or other factors...the expectation that they will leave is rooted in how they treat their people. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And most certainly reinforced by the fact that people will leave what is not good after time and the only ways to promotion are to leave and get a new job.

What a strange world we live in.

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