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  • Jerry Phillips

The Big Shift


In the early nineties I became aware of a shift in business. The shift was from employee needs balanced with shareholder value. The imbalance happened as company stock price was rewarded every time there was an announcement of a layoff. Manufacturing was moved offshore, and people lost jobs. Costs were lowered for the company, and stock prices soared. I’m not judging. My portfolio benefited as well. I’m just making an observation.

I’ve shared before that my father was physically disabled. At five years old I witnessed my father collapsing and convulsing on the floor. You can imagine the sheer terror for my family. The doctors drained the cyst on his brain and his company moved him into a purchasing role.

I was six years old, sitting in the back of our family car, as we were meeting my dad. He got out of the carpool vehicle with a box. I asked if he brought me a turkey. (I have no idea why) He showed me the box with his pens, pencils and family photos. I will never forget the look of humiliation on his face as he told his wife and youngest son that he had been “laid off”. It was the first time I saw him cry.

As a hiring manager you have a tremendous responsibility. Most of the us are aware of the damage we can to the company’s bottom line with a missed hire. Do you think about the damage it does to the person you hired, if you hired wrong? The damage to their family and friends?

My dad’s cyst had started to fill with fluid, causing him to have seizures and he would just blank out and stare into space. He really couldn’t function in his role and I believe his company had acted in good faith and treated him with dignity. I use this only as an example of the pain and disruption that a job loss can cause. My mother took over our small farm and made certain we as their three children didn’t suffer. We all three earned our degrees as the first generation to go to college. The degree helped me leave the farm for corporate America; the experience has driven me to be more diligent and proactive in my efforts to hire well.

I believe the imbalance of shareholder value, and employee value is evolving to correct itself. I’m optimistic that companies don’t see their employees as disposable. I’m excited to see the next phase.

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