We have had a horrible financial decade, now statistically coming out of the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression. And while businesses are showing signs of life, unemployment continues to be too high.
Layoffs are way of corporate life with companies tightening down wherever they can to deliver to their shareholders. Whatever relationship existed between a company and an employee has broken down. Employees expect less, fear more and employers are happy to accommodate.
I grew up in a paternalistic company where it was anticipated that you would work for a full career. Although I worked there for over three decades, the environment changed many years ago as managing one's career evolved to be a two-way street. Be competitive in the job marketplace to be wanted by your company. Simple.
But even in that context, loyalty seems to be gone in the majority of large corporations. With scarce jobs and not much changing, we are in what many have called "The New Normal". And it seems that work-life discussions may be suffering.
Work-life is all about tradeoffs. And in many cases, it is the shifting of work time to make sure that family or personal time happens. I want all of us to be successful at work, but I want that work success to be in context of a bigger picture. The objective is that professionals understand that they don't need to miss out on all the important things in family and relationships. If you're not happy at home, then your work will suffer... and vice-versa, by the way.
So - what do we do when our work lives have the shadow of layoffs hanging over us? Can you really go to that soccer game if you think the person in the office next to you is more visible than you and perhaps one of you will be laid off? Is it no longer an option to focus on things at home and have a little work-life balance?
Yes, more and more companies are providing flexible work environments and we see people working at home and taking advantage of a 24 hour day for work and life. But I'm worried that the courage required to declare a life decision in this New Normal is being threatened.
I'm not sure I like what the future holds.
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley