The blogger Echidne posted here about Circuit City’s recent decision to fire some of its more experienced staff and offer them their jobs back for less money, while CEO Philip J. Schoonover received about $10 million last year.
And while I applaud people who are calling attention to this travesty, including David Carr in today’s New York Times here, I have to admit that I’m surprised by Carr and professor Harley Shaiken of the University of California at Berkeley (interviewed in the story) who seem puzzled about the fact that the cream of a company’s work force is being targeted, as opposed to other employees who are deemed to be “lesser performers,” or whatever the acceptable corporate phrasing is this week.
Mass terminations such as this has been happening for a good while now at privately-owned companies. Usually, it only gets media attention when the companies are public.
Unless you work for senior management in a company or have a clearly defined path to achieving that seemingly exalted status, there really is no reason for you to achieve success beyond any documented performance goals for any given year. “Adding value,” whether that is defined by increased customer satisfaction or exceeding your sales quota, only results in putting a bigger target on your back when all is said and done when working for a corporation, usually because you end up making more money by outperforming your peers (unless you are a contractor, whereby a different set of rules are involved more often than not).
To me, that is the lesson of the Circuit City firings, in that it establishes a benchmark of sorts in the de-evolution of our domestic capitalist economy.
Loyalty (in terms of length of service with a given employer) has not been valued for years. Now (in the mass layoff equation), you can say the same thing about doing a good job.