Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International; Chapter 7: (A serialized novel by Robert K. Stephen)

Chapter 7

Your new friend the outplacement counsellor

Largecorp and the in its pocket management faculties have obliterated the word “fired”. A gentler term to use is “downsized”. This gentle term was no doubt invented by some management faculty whiz years ago. It has been so effective that in addition to the Human Resources Department using the term that employees of largecorp now also use this neutral sounding term or an equally polite term “let go”.

I am certain these captive management institutes, mostly named after successful capitalists who have donated a shitload of money to have these business faculties named after them, also invented the term “outplacement counselling”.

Outplacement services were historically offered to more senior management types but recently have been extended to many fired employees. Outplacement firms are a variety of remora feeding off largecorp. They are paid by largecorp. The sooner you find a new job the less severance largecorp pays. Outplacement is not for your own good but rather for that of largecorp! Largecorp cares for employees! If they don’t they bear a reputational risk.

The public relations spin put out by largecorp is that offering outplacement services shows the deep concern and care largecorp bestows to its former employees. Since when has largecorp ever shown any true compassion for its employees? Lies, lies and more lies. The fuel that largecorp is powered by.

Most severance packages are not in lump sum payments but rather salary continuance for the period of your notice period. Should you find employment before your notice period and severance payments end you usually are required to forfeit to largecorp all or part of the value of the remaining severance. So getting you back to work quickly is in the financial interest of largecorp hence the utility of outplacement counselling firms. I have found the more senior the employee the higher calibre of outplacement firm is used in the realization it is more profitable to get those with enormous amounts of severance being paid to off the payroll than lesser expensive fired employees.

An outplacement counsellor was at my termination meeting offering gentle support and compassion and written details about his firm’s outplacement services. Being a child of the 1950’s and sixties I was really not interested in any immediate counselling. We Boomers often pride ourselves on being tough and are quick to reject any form of psychological assistance.

Congratulations, you are on an assembly line of rejected, dejected, frustrated and bitter ex-employees now burdened with a new job of getting a job. You are told by your outplacement firm this is a 9-5 task for you! Even in your aggravated and miserable state you are now a commodity for a largecorp service provider. My advice to you is take some time off to recuperate from your traumatic firing. Your riled-up mind and exhausted body really require some healing time before subjecting yourself to more corporate babble you’ll hear from your outplacement firm.

These outplacement counsellors are not accredited by any professional body like lawyers, doctors or nurses. Often they have been terminated themselves and created a new business of outplacement counselling because they could not find themselves a job! People who could not manage to find a job are teaching you how to find a job! Although you and your outplacement counsellors share the fact that you are both largecorp rejects your outplacement counsellor is paid by largecorp and most likely receives a bonus for getting you back in a new job before your severance payments cease. These folks are not on your side and do not have your interests at heart. You are nothing but a broken-down human being to be quickly shovelled back into another largecorp.

You may not appreciate their relationship with the largecorp that terminated you but they speak the same lingo and spout the same old tired dogma that their largecorp Human Relations Department contacts run to like lemmings. They are your method actor teachers helping you fit the mould a future employer can feel comfortable with. You are the monkey to be trained to play the tricks to get the big banana. You have “transferable skills” You are a “team player”. You are “client driven”. You “have the big picture” but are “technically proficient”. You “thrive and grow with challenges”. “Global diversity and inclusion” are essential corporate goals. Blah, blah and more blah.

You’ll be fed much hackneyed jargon in outplacement meetings and you’ll recognize much of it from those largecorp personal development sessions you previously attended. So, don’t expect too much originality here. You are now going to be prepackaged as a new improved commodity in the same marketplace to the same tired legions of largecorp employers.

The outplacement firm is just a resource to be used. I say use what they have to offer which could be word-processing services, a new business number with voicemail, resume preparation and interview preparation. They may even offer quick psychological testing so you will better know your personality and its flaws from an employer’s perspective.

If you believe you are going to obtain true emotional support from outplacement counsellors, I doubt it. The emotional healing you will receive is from your fellow victims so many of whom are excellent employees but made a powerful enemy or were part of a giant soulless “reorganization” largecorp snaps into place when profits are lagging. So many of the victims I encountered were from largecorp financial institutions who thought nothing of firing thousands at the whim of a psychopathic CEO. How did that person become a CEO? He or she was most likely a brutal and efficient killer wiping out enemies and competitors with “extreme prejudice”.

The same largecorp advertising compassion, care and devotion to their employees and customers, donating huge philanthropic sums to charities and universities then turn around and fire thousands and before you know it their CEO is the United Way hero of the year or in The Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Employees are like in some giant abattoir butchered in the name of shareholder returns in the marketplace and in silence obscene executive compensation makes a joke of the term “shareholder value”.

It is ironic that the Senior Management Team states the mass terminations were done to protect the jobs of existing employees but the survivors have extra work heaped upon them to the point that burnout reaches epic proportions and disability costs spiral upwards due to workplace stress. Yes, there is mental wreckage amongst those “let go” and those “lucky” enough to have escaped mass firings.

Matters usually get so bad the blood on the floor is mopped up by the Inhuman Resources Department before it seeps into the management suite and is sanitized as best it can be to “manage effectively” the terror of the survivors and the fear that they may be next. The prime motivator in the SMT ranks of largecorp is the never-ending bottomless pit of greed. The prime motivator of the largecorp employee is economic survival and that direct deposit into heir bank account.

Bear in mind outplacement counsellors are rarely brilliant. They simply recycle what can be found in self help books. You may be a bit rusty on the lying, cheating and sanitizing that is needed to weasel yourself into your next position and that’s why they are there so use them. It would seldom seem that in an interview you speak from your heart but rather from a multi-purpose script. If only largecorp would respect honesty. Perhaps this explains why an increasing number of Canadians are deserting largecorp and setting up their own businesses!

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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