John Robinson on laying off journalists:
In the ensuing days, it was clear that a bond between the company and the employee was broken. The deal had been this:
They would work hard, do good work, miss family dinners, have coworkers critique their work, hear from readers that they were stupid and biased and worse.
We would give them a place to do what they loved, a paycheck and job security.
We could no longer provide the security.
After that day, that covenant wasn’t ever fully restored.
It’s a good insight.
I’ve only ever been on one side of the redundancy conversation, and it wasn’t the less unpleasant one.
(I’m with the coach in John’s tale: however shitty laying off people makes you feel, you’re not going home to your family to tell them your income is gone. The moment I realised I would have to go home and tell my pregnant wife that we might lose the house we were buying – that was the result of literally years of work, dreaming and planning – through no fault of my own must rank as one of the worst of my life.)
But that “bond” John talks about? You realise that it’s a lie in most companies. It’s a fiction that serves the company, but rarely the employee. The main reason I’ve never gone back to a “proper” job is that I’m making a good living working for myself. But the realisation that the “bond” between a company and employee is a comforting fiction is another one. When that is stripped away, the downsides of corporate life – the politics, the pettiness – are thrown into sharper relief.