GM stunned workers recently when it announced it would cut roughly 14,000 jobs and idle five factories in North America, including the Lordstown, OH, plant, which employs 1,600 workers. This assembly plant, which opened 52 years ago, is the core of this blue-collar town. GM is idling plants to cut costs and free up money to invest in electric and autonomous cars.
“Their announcement is a kick in the stomach,” said one employee. Another said, “I’m too old to train for a new career and if I transfer to another GM plant, I fear that such a move would be hugely trying for my 15-year-old son.” And another, “When I came here there was this feeling this plant has been around forever, that this plant wasn’t going anywhere. You felt a security coming here. People bought houses.”
While part of me empathizes with these workers, part of me does not. If you follow the media at all, you know there is very little loyalty in big business anymore. Although for-profit companies have always been in business to turn a profit for shareholders, the events of the early 1980s impacted thefocus of business. This time period ushered in a deep economic recession, business bankruptcies, dramatic farm losses, and rising interest rates. When the dust settled in 1983, businesses emerged with one goal: THRIVE so we will be immune to the next downturn.
Thriving means keeping costs down and we all know the easiest and quickest way to reduce the cost of business is to cut Selling, General & Administrative Expenses (SG&A) – salaries. Since 1983, many companies have been able to keep their doors open during downturns thanks to massive layoffs (SG&A reductions). GM notwithstanding.
GM is doing what it needs to do to THRIVE, and employees – in every business in the world – need to do the same. Regardless of what your parents taught you, the truth is that nothing lasts forever. There are no guarantees in life. No one owes you anything. In your lifetime you are going to face challenges, and you must take accountability for finding a way out and up. You may have to re-invent yourself in business, relocate, start over in a new relationship, recover from a death, rebuild your wealth, or manage an illness. I could go on and on.
WHAT CAN I DO? Embrace the truth. You are in charge of your life and you are responsible for your own happiness. Sometimes this means letting go of something that we want very much, but that is not working. Trust that when one door closes, it’s making room for another door – a bigger door, a better door – to open. It’s not your job to figure out when or how this will happen… it’s your job to believe.
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who?, and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or [email protected].