“The company is very healthy…”

I work(ed) for a for-profit online university- part of an industry that has been under intense scrutiny the past year for various reasons.

About two years ago, a new CEO came in. The organization had been known at a regional level for being an amazing place to work. The culture quickly deteriorated upon his arrival. He was known for being quite the prick, had no experience in higher ed, and was the worst fit possible for the culture. Once the regulatory environment started to get extremely hostile, our enrollment plummeted due to bad press. This was when the CEO decided it was time to “get lean.”

One morning, we came in to find an email from the CEO titled “Organizational Announcement.” We were informed that roughly 10% of the workforce would be cut over the next two weeks (yes.. you read that correctly). Instead of just doing it, they thought it would be best to drag it out.

We all sat, not caring if we looked productive or not, for the next week. Our directors and managers had been telling us for months that the company was “Very healthy. We have no debt. Blah blah blah.” Any ounce of trust we had for leadership was tossed into the trash the morning we got that email. I honestly felt I owed them nothing, given how horrible they were handling the situation. I realized my department was going to get hit hard. The writing had been on the wall the whole time, but most of us had just ignored it.

After sitting on pins and needles a little over a week, the layoffs started. Your department would get an email indicating that layoffs had begun in your area. Your manager (if they hadn’t gotten the boot themselves) would come to your desk and ‘summon’ you to follow them to a room where butcher paper (yes… you also read that correctly) had been placed on the walls for privacy. An HR rep would be waiting for you with the response, “You have been impacted by the workforce reduction.” You got your severance information, and then you were escorted back to your desk by a carefully selected member of the HR team to get your things.

After several colleagues of mine had gotten axed, my turn came. I’m happy to say I acted with dignity and didn’t tell anyone to “Go to hell.” I gathered my stuff quickly, said a few goodbyes, and hit a bar a few blocks away. I drank a lot that night and commiserated with friends, mocking the company. It made me feel better while I wondered what I was going to do.

Now, (6 months later) I don’t look at my layoff as a bad thing…. It was just the kick in the ass I needed to get out of a (frankly) bizarre workplace that was wasting my skills and was horribly untruthful with the staff. I know many people who survived, and they say that the morale stinks as bad as an outhouse in the middle of the amazon. Notices come in weekly, and directors and managers are dropping like flies. Overall, it’s best thing that’s happened to me in a long time, and I love my new job. I’m doing what I always wanted to, and life is great! There IS life after a layoff!

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This post was submitted by starzyMN.

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