question time: if an early exit opportunity presents itself do you take it?
Apologies if this post is a bit “all about me” but’s been a rollercoaster week in the office for TFS, that’s for sure!
You may remember in my last monthly update that the question got asked about whether I’d like to come back full time?
Well it turns out that rather than a friendly question, this was an ultimatum. “The flawn ultimatum”, is perhaps what we could call it, if this small part of my life story ever made it to the big screen?
The long story short of it was, come back full time or be on your way sonny jim.
Yes, after a few meetings and some extreme version of the opposite of what I’d call straight talking that’s what I got out of them. I literally had to bring up the R word myself, they wouldn’t say it. Very weird.
Anyway so late on Tuesday I got the confirmation, I’d be on my way, and should be getting a pretty decent pay off along with it – I’ve been there about 13 years now so this seemed fair enough. There were some other questions lingering but it seemed like a pretty final decision to me.
Naturally, I went out for a few celebratory beers. I would be sad to leave but the money and a fresh start sounded pretty good to me!
I started to get used to the idea and thought of all the positives, I could:
- Mess about and decompress for a few months
- Spend even more time with Mrs and Baby T before she goes back to work next year
- Try to ramp up my matched betting activities and see how far that took me
- Focus on the blog and work my way through all the ideas and drafts I’ve got in the locker!
- Even start a new side hustle
There would be plenty of wiggle room to do all of that before money got anywhere near tight, so I have to be honest and say I was very happy overall with how things had panned out. The worst case scenario would be in 6 months time I either get bored or the side hustling doesn’t work out as well as expected, and I have to start looking for another job. It would likely have to have been a full time one, but I would look more in the local area, keep the commute down, and (finally!) get a bike. On the other hand there are more and more remote working opportunities for developers, so maybe I could just keep an eye out for a job like that.
All good in the ‘hood, right?!
not another disastrous employee corporate management movie?
It turns out I was getting waaaaay ahead of myself because less than 24 hours later, the powers that be decided that I could stay on doing my part time hours after all. My unworthy soul had been saved by the divine corporate powers that be!
(Hang on a minute, we’ve been here before haven’t we?!)
Aside from the obvious annoyance of getting completely dicked around, like I am some sort of pawn in the managements fun little game of playing business men, there are a few other things that irked me about this whole thing.
It turns out that turning up and doing your job isn’t good enough anymore
There is a greater and greater pressure at this company to put in more hours than you actually have to or even need to. I don’t mean this has been implied but it has clearly been stated that it is expected of people, and that was part of the bone of contention about me “only” doing my part time hours, as was agreed.
As far as I’m concerned I was still doing everything that had been asked of me, none of my work has overrun the estimates I’d been given, and it’s been to a good standard. I had my yearly review just 2 months ago and my boss at the time was happy. I got given a 3 out of 5 which is the standard mark for “good” whilst not being exceptional, but I wasn’t expecting or even hoping I’d get above a 3 anyway. There was no hint in the review that anyone was unhappy with my work output.
So it seems the sticking point to me is simply that I’m not in the office enough, but I’m afraid that is what has been agreed and now they can’t take it back. The carrot of raises and promotions is not going to work with me and I’ve made it clear on many occasions now that that is the case, so the only thing left for them to make me go “the extra mile 2” now is surely…
Instilling a culture of fear
What does this look like for other employees? It doesn’t look good from my point of view. The few people that I told about were already quite hacked off about the decision to let me go anyway, and then even more annoyed about the reversal of that decision – at the sheer incompetence of the whole episode rather than the fact I’m actually staying 🙂
To put some wider context on this, there is also some other “restructuring 3” going on, so people are already edgy about that.
People are literally in fear for their jobs should they dare arrive and leave on time, with their work completed.
Luckily our meagre savings (compared to many out there in the FI world) have partially protected me from this. I have a small amount of “FU money” and I’m not afraid to deploy it. So they can’t push me around, but I do feel bad for some of the more junior staff who have to basically tow the line in this respect. Again, it’s fine if you want to climb the greasy corporate pole, if that’s your bag then have at it. But for me and many others, this is not the path we’d choose if left to our own devices.
…and after all that, it appears the exit is not completely blocked
As I was pissed off at the way it had been handled I asked for a meeting with whoever was pulling the strings on the whole decision here, and it unsurprisingly turned out to be the big boss at the company. So we had a quick chat, and he assured me that they never wanted it to go down the route it had. They just wanted “the old TFS back”. I think what that means is the guy who stays in the office till 8pm, works from home till 2am some nights. I mean, I think I made it quite clear I’m not doing that anymore – and to be honest our team is so much bigger now it is not even necessary, so it’s a moot point. I’m certainly not putting in face time in the office just to put their minds at rest that I’m “trying harder”. I will communicate this properly to them next week when we have another meeting.
But another thing he said made me believe that a Voluntary Redundancy could be on the cards if I was still not really happy being there (“If you aren’t happy here but don’t want to leave, then it’s a different conversation we should be having”). I wouldn’t say I’m not happy but on the other hand, I had got used to the idea of leaving. I definitely wouldn’t leave of my own accord without a payout because that would be a bad financial move at this stage. But with one it’s a game changer, I would feel a lot more comfortable and have a decent wedge of cash to hit the ground running with a fresh start, as described in the first section above.
The things I’m struggling with this new situation are now, if I asked again about VR:
- When it was in my mind that they wanted me out anyway, I felt validated in asking for and fighting for a good pay out. They are the bad guys and I am the poor little guy, right? Now it feels the other way round, I’m the greedy lazy employee who can’t be bothered to work anymore but am still asking for money. This feels weird and it doesn’t sit very well with me.
- It seems like the incentives aren’t aligned either. They said they definitely want me to stay, so how can I turn around and say “I’ll leave if I get a big payout”? They are incentivised to give me a bad offer so I have to stay, surely? I know there are laws and stuff on this but they have a bigger legal team than I do, unsurprisingly 🙂
- As it would now be effectively my own decision would I always be wondering “what if?“. I guess this works both ways though (If I stay, I will always be wondering What if I’d taken the VR?). I guess I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t on this one.
As I outlined the positives of being made redundant above, it is fair to list out the positives of staying:
- Guaranteed monthly income
- I can still do matched betting on the side and boost our incomes, should boost our full FI prospects quicker than building something up from scratch (again… not sure on this one. I can’t predict the future!)
- Good social scene at work now, get on with everyone really well, a few new golf and squash players to knock about with.
- Will I get bored working from home and/or doing my own thing? Will grafting for my own paycheque prove too stressful? These are admittedly first world but very real issues it’s worth thinking about.
So should I stay or should I (attempt) to go people, what do you think? 🙂
Final note: To be honest, I’ve spoken to Mrs T and we’ve pretty much made up our minds already but I’d already written half the post so I though I may as well finish off and ask people what their thoughts were anyway. Cheers for any replies you may have as it’s always great to get other, and especially outside, perspectives, sometimes!
- A big thank you to A&Z who bought me this mug in a second hand shop (frugal as ever) as a little present on the York FIRE escape meeting. I finally got it into a post! 🙂 – thanks again guys! ↩
- Corporate bullshit translation 1: working far longer hours than you really should ↩
- Corporate bullshit translation 2: You are being made redundant ↩