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for your years of devoted service January 29, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something, Free Food!.
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As companies work to save money and cut costs, they’re weighing the PR cost of layoffs against the actual cost of paying severance. You don’t often hear about companies that offer buyouts, but it’s happening quietly at this very moment.

Here at CorporateSpeak, several employees were offered buyouts.* This month, most of them departed (one left in December) with varying degrees of sadness, fanfare, appreciation, and cake.

So how do we honor employees for their dedicated years of service? Let me count the ways:

  1. Three to five months of severance pay.
  2. COBRA payments.
  3. An often-subpar cake.
  4. A few dozen of your fellow employees, many who you don’t see more than once or twice a quarter and wouldn’t know from Adam if you passed them in the grocery store, standing around and making whispered comments about how lame this all is as they wait, cake vultures**, wanting to grab their slice and get out of there as fast as possible. (You’ll have to cut the cake, too.)
  5. Platitudes from your boss — someone who probably doesn’t really appreciate you nor knows what you do, and in fact probably completely changed your job description when she arrived but still made you do your old job too.***
  6. Platitudes from a co-worker who really does know what you do and will really miss you.
  7. A gift that everyone**** chipped in for. It will be tangentially related to your job, but the only way you’ll use it is if it’s a gift card.

The worst part is that you’ll end up crying because you’ll somehow be moved by the pithy speech you give that, instead of excoriating your boss, your industry, and the situation you’re in, will be pleasant and sweet and thankful for “the time I got to spend with all of you.” If you’re really lucky, your co-workers won’t have dragged your family in for that part.

Last year at CorporateSpeak, several people left, two of whom were well-respected and had been around for thirty years or more (we’ve been around a surprisingly-long time). The retirement parties featured catered snacks and drinks, gifts (real ones) from co-workers, a speech by the Big Boss, and an excuse to stand around for an hour. But as more and more people depart, like everything else we’re becoming worn out on goodbye parties, store-bought cake, and standing around pretending we care.

Elaine had it right.

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* Not me, though.

** This term has now been defined on Urban Dictionary.

*** That specifically happened to one person who got bought out at CorporateSpeak, and it is to her that this entry is dedicated. Not that she reads this blog.

**** Everyone, in this case, means about ten people, with the remainder made up for by the boss from her own pocket just to make it seem you’re more valuable than you really are — because if you were really valuable, you’d still have a job.

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