Layoffs bless freelancers
In November 2008, America’s 500 largest public companies laid off 90,578 staff. In December, the figure was over 100,000 with the month not quite over. [For the latest numbers, go to www.forbes.com and search: layoff tracker.]
Many of these individuals were dismissed by banks and other financial institutions. With additional research I could perhaps dig up more precise numbers for this segment of the economy, but what’s the point? Here’s where I’m taking this:
Employees are readily expendable but companies that want to stay open for business will need people to do the work that still needs to get done.
So far, the best use of government bailout funds in the financial segment is to park the money in the bank. Happiness is a warm, idle bank account.
Remember when Congress was considering the auto-industry bailout? One central consideration was the preservation of U.S. jobs. But there’s nary a word about job preservation among banks. Or the preservation of services to customers. No petty distractions from “the big picture,” which has nothing to do with real people.
I’d bet that if you look through the employee handbooks of the largest financial institutions, you’d find in the preface that our employees are our most valuable assets. And I’d bet that if you read their marketing plans and listened to executive presentations, you’d see lofty sentiments on their organizations’ commitments to serving the valued customer.
But actions speak louder than words. Let’s slash staffing quickly. As for getting the work done? A petty distraction from the big issues.
As lower-level managers on the ground face gaping holes in the front lines, they’ll have to make important decisions: Formally terminate cool programs initiated a few years back at prestigious corporate off-sites? Let important tasks fall by the wayside? Or hire freelancers and consultants to get the work done and manage now-floundering programs?
I think this third alternative will be selected by many. Oh, we may not hear about this on CNN or see press releases about corporate plans to pay freelancers and consultants big fees per hour. But away from the fanfare, this will have to happen behind the scenes.
The online talk among the self-employed is about self-motivation, The Secret and the law of attraction and simply closing our ears to bad economic news. But the facts will be on our side. Now is a great time to inform possible hirers about what we offer. Let’s get on their personal radar as they recognize their desperation for experienced workers.