Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mixed emotions

What a week it has been.

Without boring you with the government background or my personal opinion on whether or not I think the moves this Government is making are right or wrong, what you need to know is that this past week my home department (along with many others) announced the implications of the overall recent budget cuts which includes staffing implications for many employees.

While I should be jumping for joy at the personal outcome for me, I am finding it challenging to hold back tears for so many reasons. To put it clearly, I was deemed 'not affected' by this week's staffing implications and this came as a HUGE relief to me. I feel as though some-how, some-way I dodged a very big bullet and I have take a moment to appreciate that and to thank my lucky stars for what this means to me and my family.

My job is stable, and appears to be for the foreseeable future, however, many of my close colleagues and personal friends are affected and now must go through a selection for retention and lay-off process to determine whether they can retain a position in the department or be declared surplus.

As I've mentioned briefly in the past, since returning to work after my maternity leave, I have been tasked with working on some of the communications activities surrounding the deficit reduction action plan. It has been a draining file... interesting and challenging, but also morally exhausting when your preparing products that will tell people (potentially yourself) they are at risk of losing their indeterminate position.

I knew the day was coming when the cuts would have to be announced, and not knowing my own fate created a world of stress that I had underestimated.  Upon learning that my position was not affected, I actually broke down in tears... because I was in shock of hearing the news, but also because I knew that my safety meant someone else was at risk of losing their position.

Last night the overload of stress caught up with me by way of a massive headache that felt crippling. It almost underlined for me everything I had been feeling all week. 

Working in an environment that has affected and non-affected people in the same group is challenging. It immediately creates a division between colleagues, and a segregation that you try not to acknowledge, yet it is there.  Undergoing changes like these also drives workplace moral into the ground. I know personally I have hard time focusing on my day to day tasks when something like this is happening to my colleagues, and I am not the one who has to actually think about the next steps in the process. I can only imagine what this news has done to them and their personal lives. It is paralyzing in so many ways - and while I tell myself the good ones will make it through these retention processes, I know that some of them will not, because the exercise is designed to realize savings through the elimination of positions regardless of the individuals who hold those positions.

Its a mathematical equation that determines who is affected and who isn't, but it feels personal on so many levels. Those who are affected are feeling like somehow their work is inadequate, or their commitment to their position is in question and those who are unaffected are somehow positioned to look like their work speaks for itself.  The truth of the matter is that some people who were unaffected by the cuts don't have the best performance records or half the commitment level of many of those individual who are affected (not in all cases, but in some).  When you put all of these factors together you have a lot of people questioning the commitment of the department to employees in general when really, it appears they are just a number or box being moved around on an org chart rather than a person with skills and abilities and a dedication to the department's mission, vision, and overall values.  I know that is not the intent of the exercise, but that is the reality from my perspective.

This last week has presented so many questions for what the future will hold, and many of them I still don't have answers for. I have had a very heavy heart over all of this, and while I am not deemed 'affected' this has, in so many ways, affected my professional and personal life.

I will take each day as it comes but I will not for a moment forget this experience or how it has impacted me on so many levels.

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