Your job’s never safe

BT, where I spent the bulk of my career, have announced they are intend to reduce their workforce by 55,000 employees world wide. That’s over 40%.

So if you work in BT, you have a 4 in 10 chance of losing your job.

The original announcement was couched in terms of being more efficient and using AI to replace people. It’s only int the news again because they are looking for a new CEO to implement the cuts.

4 in 10. Not very nice odds, are they?

There will be people who have worked in BT (or in EE, or the other companies it has acquired) for their entire career or at least a substantial period of time. They will have specialised to meet the business needs of the organisation, moulded their careers (and themselves) to suit BT’s corporate objectives.

They will have shown commitment to the company, have put their jobs before their loved ones, before their personal needs and desires, on occasions. They will have made choices that have tied them more closely to the business, perhaps restricting their options elsewhere.

But that might count for nothing. They still have a 4 in 10 chance of getting the push. That’s almost a toss of a coin.

‘But I work for BT”, they’ll have been thinking,”it’s a global company, market leader in the UK, it’s massive. I’ll be all right.”

And if they are good employees with good appraisals, they can expect to survive the odd bit of belt-tightening that seems an inevitable part of the corporate life.

But 4 in 10? How can anyone think they are safe?

I was there when BT did its first ever round of redundancies. The terms were extremely generous, there was a lot of support for people to find new jobs, or take early retirement. And it was still carnage.

Today, the terms will be nothing like as generous. Many will find themselves too over-specialised to find equivalent roles, or a bit too ‘seasoned’ for a very ageist industry. Some employers will consider them ‘institutionalised’ and so less attractive.

It’s going to be grim.

This is not really about efficiency, or about AI. The are relevant but secondary issues, they are distractions, misdirections . These job cuts are being driven by the share price. And, as sure as night follows day, executive bonuses.

This is why employees are not engaged, this is why over half of them are looking to change jobs, this is why they are ‘quiet quitting’ (or just doing what they are paid to do, as I prefer to put it).

Companies don’t deserve your loyalty, your extra effort, your trust because it’s no longer a reciprocal arrangement. They welched on their half of the deal years ago.

Today, you need to make sure you’ve always got options, that you are always choosing your own path through the corporate minefield, because at any stage they might just decide to blow you up.

Don’t go with flow, be the captain of your ship and steer your own course.

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