Two days ago, my work sent one of our department teams home without pay and sent the work out to an outside service. This morning, we got notice that those people are being laid off so the work they do can be sent to an outside vendor. All the circuitous, wordy attempts to sugar-coat the decision with corporate bleating about revenue cycles and the good of the organization can’t begin to mitigate the ugliness going on. The few of us who are still employed are heartsick for our co-workers. We’re all waiting for the ax to fall.
Over a year ago, the company where I work bought a new software package that they believed would eliminate the need for most of the people in our department. Anticipating this, they laid people off, only to find that though it’s a decent piece of software in its own right, the sales claims about how much it could do were grossly exaggerated. To make a long story short, with fewer people, the work piled up, and rather than hire back the experienced old employees, they started outsourcing the work to another “service.”
Another software system designed to further automate our work went “live” yesterday. Each of us got perhaps 10 minutes of hands-on training. When it was my turn at the console, I asked an innocent question that turned out to be most awkward for the trainer. “How do I navigate from field to field when I’m filling out this document?” Ooops. Every answer he gave made things go horribly wrong. The cursor did not jump to the next field, and the field started to grow and began spreading across the screen. “I’ll get back to you on that, “he promised, “but your time’s up now.”
Today, ominously, our work trickled down to nothing. Most of the employees were sent home, forced to go without pay or use vacation time, because the company has a contract with the outsourcing firm. What work there is must be given to them instead of to the actual staff. I’ve never been in this situation before; in every other place I’ve worked, when we’re caught up, they discontinue the outside service.
I had to stay, though; it was my job to keep checking on the new application that is meant to replace me. It sat frozen on my computer screen like a bloated and very dead Frankenstein monster, expected any minute now to snap to life and start working, but nothing has happened for two days. Other than that, there was very little to do; the work just wasn’t there.
I just got an email from COBRA about “affordable” medical coverage when I lose my job. It’s starting to feel like the Twilight Zone around here.
At Guide Dogs for the Blind, puppies who don’t do well with the very specialized training are “career-changed.” Some become therapy dogs, and many are given back to their raisers as pets. I got the message at work that my own longtime career is fast becoming obsolete. This is very scary. I don’t have long to go before I reach retirement age, and when I got my current job almost five years ago, it didn’t occur to me that I’d be out job hunting again. I work at home doing medical transcription for a big hospital system, where our job duties are being replaced by a software program. Other companies are outsourcing transcription to other countries where they do it cheaper. The first round of layoffs was about a year ago, but sometimes it takes me a long time to get the message. There have been ominous rumblings and more layoffs over the last year, and just a couple of weeks ago, I made the decision to start looking for different work. It shocked me how liberating, wonderful, and right that felt! Usually after I make a big decision, I stew and agonize over whether I’m making a huge mistake, but this time, there’s no conflict at all. Just a day or two later, the announcement came that our own transcription team is next and we will be replaced by a different software package by summer. It feels so good to have already made my decision ahead of time!
What I want to do instead, though, is a whole different question. I’m looking at jobs posted online. Then there are the messy practical matters of getting ready to look for a new job. My old resumes with information about things like the dates of my previous jobs have disappeared and are likely hiding in a box somewhere down in the basement. An inspection of my closet let me know that if I got a call to come in for an interview, I’d have nothing to wear; working at home has let me live in my jeans for the last five years. I’m fixing myself up now. I got my hair cut, and yesterday, I bought a new outfit. I’m so lucky to be doing this while I still have my old job and can afford to buy new clothes. It’s exciting to be on the threshold of a new adventure.
Sunday Scribblings: Message