Sustaining Employability

When my job as human resource manager was eliminated in September of 2010, I felt a sense of gloom and doom for exactly two days. It happened on a Tuesday, one day after my six-year anniversary.

(At least they allowed me the mandatory six-year vesting period for my 401k.) By Thursday I was reminded of six years of morning prayers to be free of the job that caused me heart palpitations and migraines.

The entire management team was eliminated between July and the end of the year.  When I look back at what transpired, I realize the basic principles I was taught in business school were overlooked. Human capital was not an asset, thus, how could the business sustain?

The general manager used to say if we didn’t have to work or deal with customers, our jobs would be easy. The same rings true with human capital.  Looking back, a common thread my company seemed to have was they disposed of their assets too quickly.

If an employee needed help in a certain area, the answer was to terminate their employee. I always challenged the managers to invest in the employees.

After all, the employees were to provide a service for the company, right? Likewise, the company should provide a service to the employee by investing time into making them a more valuable asset.

Sharing is essential in business—big business. It is hard to assume not sharing what’s going on with business will foster a sense of well-being among employees. It is true you can’t share everything, however, keeping employees involved and in the loop on things, aid in the overall pulse of the organization.

Employees who know what’s going on are empowered, tend to work smarter, more efficiently and want to do a good job over all. In my case, morale was always low, thus making my job difficult.

As a result, before us managers met our ultimate demise, sales were dropping due to the failing US economy. Customer satisfaction ratings continually dropped during the last three years due to inconsistencies in product quality which I know were in part due to the incredibly high turnover rates we had.

# # #

What’s an HR Manager to do when she’s the one laid off? Thankfully, my husband has a job, and unlike many Americans who find themselves in the same situation, we are able to make it on one income.

I reinvented myself. My first love is writing and that’s what I aspired to do while working. I moonlighted as a novelist—touring, speaking and writing inspirational novels while holding down my full time job. Once I cooled off after my position was “eliminated,” there’s a new HR Manager now, I dug deep and found some freelance writing gigs that helped to build my almost nonexistent writer’s resume.

I’m a novelist, not a journalist—although I have a college degree that would say otherwise. The last year has been interesting: I’m encouraged one day and discouraged the next.

How am I sustaining? I’m pushing through on the days when I’m discouraged. I search for writing jobs and have had a few that paid me a little. I reach back into my skill bag and offer resume writing services. I write articles on effective management policy, write company manuals, or whatever is trending.

During a time that seems tumultuous, the only thing to do is to stay encouraged. For me, it’s the right thing to do. If my position hadn’t been “eliminated,” I’d still be trying to help someone else achieve their dream—not my own.

Please share your comments with this blogger.

                                            About the Blogger                                               

Daphine Glenn Robinson

Daphine Glenn Robinson acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a minor is Sociology from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. She worked in administrative positions at the Rock Hill Herald and the Charleston Post & Courier newspapers before going to graduate school to pursue a Master of Business Administration Degree.

Robinson worked as human resource manager for more than ten years where she was responsible for employee relations, safety, benefits, and worker’s compensation.

19 thoughts on “Sustaining Employability

  1. Pingback: Sustaining Employability | Books, Writing & Life

  2. Thank you for being a guest with us. It is very kind of you to share your story with us. I am in the process of reinventing myself, as well. It is not as easy as it sounds, is it?
    I joined the Marine Corps, went to college and rec’d a double major, got married and married someone with a job that worked for the government, 16.5 hour shifts, without a break for weeks at a time. Although I was married, I raised our children alone. I had to work as well and I worked in positions such as Director of a non-profit and such, but I only accepted jobs that allowed me to still be there for my kids in the summer, go to school and sports events, church and what not. We volunteered for everyone in town, I was a foster Mother, and I raised Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients and Christ followers. When it was time for them to go to college I needed to find more serious work and earn a greater income. Nobody would take me seriously. It embarrassed me so badly that I could barely represent myself. I was labeled as being old and out-of-date. Eventually, I didn’t blame anyone for not hiring me.
    Actually, quite the opposite is true. I love life, I have a tremendous amount to offer in being an independent female servant leader, and I am deeply passionate about helping other women that are like me or that might end up like me. I would like to be able to explore ways for women to train and educate themselves at home, raise their families well, and then work from home or at home (not have to work too many hours). Raising our families is a great gift from God. He put us in charge of them, we do not want to blow it! Currently, I am working on my MBA, my next goal is to work on my doctorate in Strategic Leadership.

      • Hi Michael! This is a good question, thank you for asking me. I am researching this, as we speak I have looked at LMU and UT Knoxville. I have to make it “doable.” I am praying that my life will come into equilibrium and I will be able to afford to pursue doctorial studies. It will be a blessing.
        How about you? You know I appreciate Mrs. Robinson’s pioneer spirit. She is a great example of when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Her dreams that she is currently making come true are determination at its finest and she seems like she is enjoying her work for the first time ever. I would love helping people, men and women, find their inner drivers. Dr. Green is very good at working with adult students helping us see a better future for ourselves, our communities, and our country. As Dr. Green would say, “Anything is possible, let’s see what happens.”

    • Heidi, thanks for sharing. I admire your courage and determination. I am sure you will reach your goal in due time and benefit many others in the process!

  3. Exactly, Heidi! Somedays I feel as if I’m getting nowhere fast. Then I’ll take a step back and look at the fact that I’ve started a blog, written at least 50 articles, finished my fourth novel, and still managed to maintain my household over the last 14 months. I believe it’s all going to work out in the end. The hard part is staying in my “lane.” I look at those who have already found jobs–of those of us who were displaced–and realize everyone’s journey is not the same.

  4. Thank you for joining us this week. Reading your story helps to put things into perspective for me. I’m just starting out myself, having just recently receiving a bachelors degree, and it quickly became apparent that finding any job wouldn’t be easy. Of course, I had big aspirations when I started college, and I thought the jobs would be falling into my lap. While I’m still on the hunt, your post helps me to realize that even after I find a job, I will still have to work hard to sustain my employment, even though sometimes it will be out of my control.

  5. Ms. Robinson, thank you very much for you blog. I can attest to your point that sometimes we must reach deep down inside to pull the best of us and confront whatever life trows at us. What’s more, most of the time our most dreadful challenges are in actuality our greatest opportunities. I’m currently a third year medical student also completing an MBA, and I must admit, at times it is very challenging. Still, I remind myself that it is all for a higher purpose. Our higher purpose in life is for each of us to find, and that is what I think can keep us going through thick and thin. I am certain that you will or already have found your purpose, but sticking to it is what makes the difference. Good luck on all your future endeavors!

  6. As we can see with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests, the workforce has felt inequities for a while. While there is not a specific goal of the OWS movement, the message being sent is that there has been a focus on making the bottom dollar and not an investment in human capital but exploiting it. We still don’t know what the lasting lessons from OWS will be but with all the finger-pointing and jokes being made; I believe Americans will now be more vested in there personal development and opportunities than loyalty to their employer. This will exacerbate the problem stated by Robinson “Customer satisfaction ratings continually dropped …due to inconsistencies in product quality which I know were in part due to the incredibly high turnover rates we had”. I believe the political environment in Washington, with standstill bipartisan politics and indecision, have forced a protectionist attitude in corporate America. Companies are reluctant to discretionary spending with such a turbulent and negative political atmosphere.

  7. Thank you so much for joining us this week to share your very inspiring story. I wish you the best in the endeavors you choose. The job market is truly rough as I have found out over time. I know I was oftentimes naïve and felt like I should be able to land any job I wanted after graduating college. I had a very rude awakening when I figured out few people were even hiring, and the ones that were already had their people picked even before interviews occurred. While I did find a job that I am very happy with now, I can definitely see how frustrating it can be in the hunt for what truly makes you happy in the job market.

  8. Ms. Robinson, thank you so much for sharing with us. I never thought of it in terms of “reinventing myself”, but I too have working on me. As a stay at home mom for 11 years, I had the opportunity to go back to finish my BS degree. Although I did well in high school, I highly doubted this brain would survive college. Survive and thrived is what I did! WOW, we are NEVER too old to learn, to grow, to stretch ourselves. Now, I’m on to my MBA. Sometimes we find that friends we thought dear were just seasonal friends when confronted with our quest, but that is ok because they were there to teach us something. I think differently, I react differently, I talk differently and I love it. The only thing I do not love is when people say “well, you always thought this or that?” Can they not see that I am not the person that I was? Or are they trying to keep us in that mold that they have set for us? Never be afraid to move on, follow your dreams, change your life, and grow. Enjoy the journey!

  9. Thank you so much for participating in our blog. I couldn’t agree with you more in saying that companies should invest in their employees instead of letting them go. The company I work for also has an extremely high turnover rate in some departments – thankfully not mine – and it is hard to produce success when employees are always afraid that they are the next one to go.

    On the topic of re-inventing ourselves, I am currently working in field that I didn’t go to school for. I have my bachelors in Accounting and I am getting my MBA, yet I work as an inventory analyst at a local company. Sometimes I definitely understand what it feels like to work so hard for something that you may never get to. I have learned though, that one of the best things to invest in is yourself. Make yourself better and that can be a great building block!

  10. The topic of vertical communication is covered frequently in management conversations, and this blog entry is no exception. Transparency and vision are paramount for the success of an organization. However, managers are often faced with tough decisions that can create rifts in the organization. Often, managers are not well equipped to handle the emotional struggles that can accompany these decisions, and the result is inappropriate handling of these situations. It is not only important for managers to interact successfully with customers, but also employees. Human capital is not just capital, and each person is owed the respect of expression and transparency.

  11. Mrs. Robinson, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is very refreshing to hear someone who has kept a positive attitude through losing a job and having to deal with this economy. Maybe the job loss was a blessing in disguise that allowed you to work on your writing career.
    I have worked in the health care industry my entire life. I haven’t felt the pressures of downsizing since I have moved out of my home. But, when I was 11, my father lost his job. Because of this, my mom went from being a stay at home mom to working double shifts. I know how hard it can be on the family. I was the oldest, so I felt like I needed to contribute more at the home when this happened. It was never asked of me or expected of me, but I wanted to help out any way that I could. A job loss affects the entire family. It is hard, but being a part of a loving and supportive family, I never felt any different when we just ‘didn’t have the money’.
    I am currently in medical school and I am working on my MBA. I also have four children. Being a physician is something that I have always wanted to do, like you have always wanted to be a writer. Financially, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I know that the hard work and struggles I deal with now will all be worth it in just a few years. When you set your mind on something, the goals you have can turn into a reality. Always remember to keep a positive attitude. I wish you the best of luck in your writing career.

  12. Thanks for joining our blog Ms. Robinson; we are extremely glad that you are here. You experience sounds very familiar as I have heard many stories like yours. It is truly unfortunate that so many people were laid off due to declining economy; however, most people have yet to even find another job while other are having to settle for jobs they don’t enjoy or jobs that are much less prestigious. Employees were and still are fearful for their jobs. It seems in today’s business world that there is certainly no guarantee of tomorrow. It would be very beneficial for employees to have a back up plan if things don’t work out like they originally planned, and maybe these plans could include careers they are more passionate about and more fulfilling just as you did.

  13. Ms. Robinson, thank you for participating in our blog this week. The current economic crisis has reaped havoc on many American households over the past four years now. I work in the rececuational boating industry which has been hit very hard by the down turn in the economy. I have seen several US manufacturing plants within my organization close and the restructuring of the corporate hierarchy for the boat group. Each day myself and those that I work with still have the fear that our plant or job positions could be eliminated at any moment due to the still unstable economy. The facility is in a continuous state of future shock due to the shifts in production and manufacturing process changes (Slaughter, 2002). The key to employment sustainability within the organization has been job diversification, the wiliness to take on new roles and also the wiliness to learn new skills though internal and external sources. It was the need to have a better understanding of business concepts and theories that brought me to LMU’s MBA program due to my role changing from being solely engineering related to also include several administrative duties. Each day often brings new opportunities, not challenges; due to a more global presences of the company and the only way to be prepared for those opportunities is through either personal or institutional advancement in education .
    Slaughter, R. A. (2002). Future Shock Re-assessed .

  14. Thank you for your insight into this matter and joining our conversation. I love your positive attitude. Human capital management is one of the most important aspects of being a leader who is able to sustain their workforce and making that workforce as productive as possible. Creating a culture of learning and compassion is something I have always strived to do where I work. Providing a means for employees to further their education, whether with formal education of in training for new and emerging technologies is always top priority.

  15. Thanks for the feedback. Definitely stay encouraged, although I know encouragement doesn’t pay the bills. However, I know there is a higher calling for my life and, again, I’m so thankful that we are able to sustain on one income. There are times when doubt creeps in and I wonder what if… Then there are days when I see an awesome job and apply for it, only to have a panic feeling when I click the submit resume button.

    I’m believing there will be a day when I will stand before a crowd, teleprompter, audience and will tell the story of how my lack of a job propelled me to my new future.

    My former job has taught me a lot. 1- When I make it to whatever destination, I’ll know how to treat my employees/coworkers. 2- Pay attention to the people who are helping me become whoever I am to be. 3- It’s not all about me. 4- Begin with the end in mind.

  16. hi to all nuleadership.wordpress.comers this is my first post and thought i would say a big hello to yous –
    speak soon
    g moore

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