Work isn’t what it used to be
But was it ever?
Yesterday I ran into a friend and colleague from a medical device company we both worked at. He’s still there but said 70 percent of his staff was recently laid off, which mirrors what I had heard from other parts of the company. My friend surprised me by saying most of the jobs had gone overseas. He also said the expertise of the replacements was noticeably sub-par.
Sour grapes? Maybe. Maybe not. We already know that people with experience cost more to hire and keep then people without experience. This is good news for people wanting into an industry. This is not-so-good news for those invested in life with one company. But life in one company—was that ever a realistic expectation? I grew up thinking that was the norm. Dad worked for IBM and IBM never laid people off. Until they did.
My own decades of work experience show companies large and small shucking employees as a natural part of the business cycle. It came to be an expected—if morose—part of all my generation’s experience. Without exception. Human capital is still, well, capital.
From all our political talk about “Jobs!” you might expect the return of those old high-paying jobs you stay at until you wake up dead at your desk one day. Those days are gone. Today the best offense and defense are the same: anticipate change. Build bridges with people. Sharpen skills.