Friday, May 01, 2009

My Terrible, Rotten, No Good Day

. Friday, May 01, 2009

We received more bad news at Forest Animals A/E yesterday with the announcement of more layoffs. If you remember, it was back in December when we had our first round of layoffs. Those layoffs were intended to get us through until the end of 2009 with the hopes that the economy would turn around by then. Unfortunately, there have been numerous changes to our current work load and backlog of work. We had to stop work on about $6 million worth of work because clients asked us to stop working while they figure out their budgets. Other projects that have been awarded to us have been further delayed for similar reasons. It seems that there have been delays in the stimulus money getting to where it needs to go. Often times the states and local governments are using money that is supposed to go to renovating schools and building prisons and using it instead to shore up other parts of their budgets. The federal government is looking into this misuse of the stimulus money, but that's just causing further delays. Owners are halting work on projects because they are unsure of their budget situations.

We still continue to win projects but the competition is very fierce. When normally there'd be a dozen companies competing for a job, now there are more than three dozen. We now have to compete with some of the largest A/E firms in the country because they're also scrounging for work. Our firm is also "lowering our standards" by going after small renovation jobs that we would normally not consider.

The firm laid off about a dozen more workers in the Richmond office and probably a dozen or more amongst our other offices. The first round of layoffs got rid of some good workers but was mostly comprised of the lower achieving and least dedicated workers. This round was much more difficult because the people let go this time were all good workers and dedicated employees. But when the work isn't coming in the door, someone has to go.

Most of us knew that the bad news was coming about a week prior to this meeting where the layoffs were announced. You could tell from the mood in the office. A lot of those same behaviors were taking place - people looking around wondering who might be let go; people being a bit more friendly by saying hi. We moved into our new office last fall and we were almost right at capacity. But now, with the reduction in the workforce, it's feeling quite empty.

I just feel so bad for those that lost their job. They were good workers and good people. I can't help but feel the same feelings when I got laid off (twice) earlier in my career. I worry for them even more so because the economy is in much worse shape now compared to the two times that I got laid off. I feel most sad for one woman who is a single mother with a 7 year old son. It must be terrible to have to go home and tell your son that, "Mommy lost her job."

So the good news is that I still have a job. The bad news is that they reduced everyone's salary by 5%. I'm likely more fortunate than a lot of people with the salary that I make. But going from the pay freeze at the beginning of the year to now having to deal with a pay reduction is going to hurt. My family is going to have to go from reducing our discretionary spending to practically eliminating it. For example, we likely will no longer send Boo Jr to summer art camp to save ourselves $150. It's also doubtful that we will make a trip back up to NY this summer. That will save us several hundred dollars.

I'm hoping that the company will still promote people to Associate and Senior Associate this year. The timing of these announcement have changed in the past few years so I'm not sure when that might happen. I do know that I have been nominated to the Board of Directors to made Senior Associate. If I do get that promotion in title, the company will pay 100% of my health care premiums, so that would help considerably offsetting the 5% reduction in pay.

So my thoughts go out to my recently laid off co-workers. I will miss you all and I hope that you aren't out of work very long. Take care.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that, Boo.

It's you know who! said...

That's tough, I'm glad you're still ok though.

Mohawk Chieftain said...

Sorry about your pay cut, but glad to hear that you still do have a job. Just last week, I made a tough decision, but did send a $100 Paypal payment to a woman in California, who lives in her car, along with her 16-year old daughter & their two Chihauauas. I thought about it long & hard, before I finally sent the money, but having occasionally slept in cars myself, only for a night or two, here & there, on vacations, I know how even that felt. I can't imagine how tough it is for homeless people. Boo Jr. might miss camp, but at least he's got a home & family support system to count on. Good luck!

Boo said...

Thanks everyone. It just gets me down that cuts need to be made at all. None of the people let go during this second round of cuts were bad workers. But the sad fact is that it doesn't make sense to keep people on when work isn't coming in the door. I've been fortunate to have work on my plate though that's no guarantee of job security. We are seeing some signs of the stimulus money getting some projects going again (or better yet, new projects). But the competition amongst all of the A/E firms is pretty intense.

Mohawk Chieftain said...

The present state of the Economy is terrible. But, according to a reporter with our local newspaper, suddenly-rising gasoline prices are encouraging... because she says, they indicate that the Economy is beginning to rebound. I'm not sure what she's smoking, but I don't think I wanna try any....