Earlier this year my boss, the director of finance, told me that because of economic conditions, my position as an auditor was to be outsourced to a company based in India. I was given a schedule of how my work would be transitioned and told that I would train an employee from the outsourcing company.
I trained the outsourcing employee and started the transition in March, but I still answer their questions and frequently correct errors. The transition is far behind schedule. I spoke with the director of human resources about my status in June and he said he was not aware of my situation. After another meeting with my boss, he did not offer any job reassurances except a mention that I should be safe for this year.
I have been with this company since 1997. The uncertainty and lack of clear communication has left me demoralized and upset. What I should be doing?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.
Your situation seems to have some clear power imbalances. The root cause of your problem appears to be poor senior management communication and lack of understanding of executive decision making on employee well being and rights.
The function you were hired to perform is defined by your employment contract that you have honoured for 16 years and that has not been officially changed.
Employers have the right to change an employee’s contract but they must make it clear and do it in writing. The fact that the head of HR is unaware of your situation confirms that nothing was put in writing. Your belief that your job was changed, and that there is no clarity on your length of employment, role or compensation going forward is alarming.
It is important not to show your hand right now, and to be strategic. As hard as it is, it’s important to keep a positive façade, seek to obtain references from your employer that provide evidence of your quality of work and tenure, and do all you can to stay balanced.
You have time, so explore new job opportunities. If and when your role is terminated you must be given written notice or pay in lieu of notice. So step back, understand your rights, get your facts correct, get your references and explore all your employment and legal rights before you push any alarm bells. You may in the end have a case building for constructive dismissal.
If you are patient, things may work out. But that does not change how difficult this has been for you. It is amazing how many managers lack interpersonal skills or insight into basic employee law.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Vice-president, human resources, League Financial Partners, Victoria
First, let’s be clear that this is not about you or your work, it’s about the bottom line.
You need a full and frank discussion with both the director of finance and the director of HR. You deserve more assurance from both as to what the future holds. Long-term employees are not easy to replace, so your knowledge and expertise are a tangible asset to the company.
Sadly, it has been my experience that most leaders are loathe to give bad news and will waffle as long as possible. But you need clarity about your future. You have given 16 years of service and as a matter of respect you are due the truth and some certainty. I would appeal to their sense of honour: What would they want if they were in your shoes?
Alternate employment is always preferable to layoff, from both a cost and an engagement perspective. It seems like you have some time, so polish your résumé, take any courses or certifications that would enhance your employability, and start looking. It’s always easier to find a job when you have a job.
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