Podcast: Striking Back: Protecting Your Paycheck When Your Job Goes Off The Rails

Almost three years in, we think it’s safe to conclude that history will view the 2020’s as “an interesting time to be alive.” But a silver lining of these turbulent times has been the widespread rethinking about how work should “work.” The resulting push toward previously-unthinkable levels of flexibility, empowerment and compensation has met with some friction, however. The resulting labor unrest, strikes, and (our favorite) the paradoxical threat of widespread layoffs amid historic staff shortages, has made a lot of us understandably anxious about our current and future jobs. In this episode, we discuss strategies for keeping your career and your sanity from going off the rails.

Links to Topics Discussed in This Episode:

1:01 – Rail workers push to strike. Here’s why they’re angry.

9:08 – Timeline of strikes in 2022

9:59 – Alabama Miners Slam Corporate Media Blackout Of Struggle (video)

10:30 – Striking Alabama coal miners refuse to pay $13.3 million in ordered damages

17:45 – Great Apprehension: Majority of Americans ‘are fearful of losing their job,’ analyst says

23:01 – How to Deal with Layoff Anxiety

25:53 – Rumours and gossip demand continuous action by managers in daily working life

Visit us at busynessparadox.com for the transcript to this episode. Check out some of our blog posts and other content while you’re there!

Frank Butler  0:17
Hello Busybodies, welcome to another episode of the Busyness Paradox. I’m Frank Butler here with Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey,

Paul Harvey  0:25
Not doing it. Not gonna say it.

Frank Butler  0:27

Paul Harvey  0:28
I’m on strike.

Frank Butler  0:30

Paul Harvey  0:30
Alright, fine. Good day

Frank Butler  0:32
I guess we’ll have to agree to give you an extra day of vacation, then. Unpaid time off

Paul Harvey  0:36
Unpaid, of course, that’s all I ask.

Frank Butler  0:38
Unpaid time off. So as you guys probably know that we’re opening this episode discussing the railroad strike, which was all the rage when this was recorded. And we really wanted to bring this up, because it’s going to lead into a broader thing going on across the board, that it impacts a lot of people. And this railroad strike certainly could have impacted a lot more people.

Paul Harvey  0:59
Yeah this, could have been a mess.

Frank Butler  1:01
Yeah, it could have been a mess. But first and foremost, if you’re not familiar with the railroad strike in the United States, we had a big lead up to the railroad workers potentially striking. And one of the reasons that they were considering striking, was just being able to see a doctor or go to a health care appointment without repercussions. They didn’t even have time off for that.

Paul Harvey  1:26
Or anything else,

Frank Butler  1:27
Or anything else, literally, it’s terrible. But one of the concessions they made was to give them an unpaid day off to go see a doctor, which to me is just like, there are repercussions to this whole thing like really

Paul Harvey  1:44
Your job, the way it’s currently structured…my understanding is it’s basically you and one other person driving a five mile long train across the country and don’t get time off. See a doctor sick. Do you want a sick person driving 500 million tons of steel train track? How do we get to this point?

Frank Butler  2:04
Well, and let’s put this in a little bit of context, right. In 2000 Union Pacific one of the rail companies employed 50,000 people and it generated about 11 point 8 billion in revenues. Today it has 18,000 fewer employees about 32,000 but earns 85% 85% more revenue each year. And they say that shifts can last up to 80 hours a week already. This year. Buffets be an SF BNSF owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Let me try that, again, Berkshire Hathaway, they earn an operating margin, their best operating margin at least 21 years. While the percent of revenue spent on labor is at its lowest. So they’ve increased or they’ve had their best profit margins. And now they’re looking at having a smaller and smaller percentage of revenue spent. And they’re continuing squeezer workers, and they had introduced a point based attendance system which resulted in workers getting just one day off each month. Meanwhile, since 2010, the four primary rail companies have delivered about $124 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock repurchases. Now keep in mind that’s a little over $10 billion a year. Well, we talked about giving somebody a day off on paid to go see a doctor

Paul Harvey  3:26
$10 billion to goose your stock price, but not what does it cost to give someone a day off to go see a doctor or do anything else like to be just not working for a day?

Frank Butler  3:37
It hurts my soul. I mean, just it’s just humanity, right? Just thinking humanity.

Paul Harvey  3:42
I think the biggest disgrace or second biggest disgrace about this is that a lot of us are just now hearing about this. This has been going on in its current state for two years now. And we’ve heard nothing from the media from the government. It’s been just kind of brushed aside that there might be a little bit labor trial troubles. And what we have heard, at least in my experience has been and again, this is not just by like political interest, but just the news media in general of kind of trying to lump them together with some of the more some of the less defensible teachers unions during the pandemic, trying to like lump them together with teachers unions that didn’t want to reopen the schools. This is so night and day. Neither of us are, you know, historically, like super pro union or anything. But I mean, this is completely irrelevant that that there even is a union involved here. I mean this is just…

Frank Butler  4:35
Human…basic human needs for

Paul Harvey  4:36
Inhuman way of treating people and it’s…frickin dangerous. Guys are driving trains…

Frank Butler  4:42
It blows my mind and just thinking about it even as we’ve said in the show in the past, companies get the union’s they deserve. And in this context, it’s actually it’s even worse than that because they probably deserve a union that’s maybe more on the absurd side as some unions have been.

Paul Harvey  4:59
They need one of those like 70’s corrupt auto unions.

Frank Butler  5:04
They’re breaking the kneecaps. The CEOs like if you don’t give our guys this Yeah. I still don’t think we figured out where Jimmy Hoffa is Bernie. But you know, thinking about that whole process, though, in my mind just looking at just a basic thing, like being able to go to a doctor and just getting time off for that, and they don’t have sick leave, there’s no sick leave. And the craziest part about this is that their contract is going to be up for renegotiation for I think it’s 2024 2025. Because this actually, is regarding a contract that was supposed to have been taken care of, I think in 2020.

Paul Harvey  5:45
Yeah it’s two years this has been going on. Yeah.

Frank Butler  5:47
The nice thing about their pay raise that they’re getting in there, which is a 24%, pay raise over five years, starts backwards. So it’s going to kick in and that 2020 and go out to the end of this contract. So there’s still a chance within two years, we might see another strike going on.

Paul Harvey  6:01
That seems to happen way more than it should you have these protracted labor disputes and everything, finally get a contract. And it’s retroactive three years, and it’s got like nine months left in it, and then we’re just going to be doing this again, come on, but credit to the, to the workers themselves on this. My understanding is that the government and union officials, many times in the past have come to agreements that are fairly one sided in favor of the companies themselves. And with the expectation that the rank and file it union members will just approve it. And this time, they said no, we’re not whatever deal they cooked up with the President Biden’s what’s at Presidential Council or I don’t remember what it was called, but basically a task force to like, work out this labor dispute, whatever the deal was that they cooked up couple years ago, presented to the workers from the from the union bosses, and the worker said, No, we’re done with this nonsense. So, good for them.

Frank Butler  6:55
Yeah. And that’s because now Biden gotten his people involved, right, the Department of…

Paul Harvey  7:00
Again, but he was there two years ago with whatever deal that they rejected to was not him personally, but his appointed counsel, that worked with the union leadership, you know, they cooked up some more of the same basic deal. Oh, yeah. Tried to cram it down the workers throat.

Frank Butler  7:17
I think this time, they actually did a little bit more than…

Paul Harvey  7:20
I should hope so.

Frank Butler  7:21
A little bit better. This deal at least sounds a lot sweeter. I think with the whole pandemic, having been a situation too, I think, obviously, that’s had its own impact. But these strikes are obviously they’re happening everywhere, right? I mean, this is the thing that it seems like there’s just more and more strikes. But before we move on to some other examples of that, I do want to just give a shout out to one of the guests we’ve had on in the past. Dr. Bento Lobo, who, in our Franken Paul gets schooled episode talked about finance and sort of the role of finance. And he was interviewed with NewsChannel, nine here in Chattanooga. And he said, it causes all kinds of ripple effects through the economy, there’s going to be shortages of food, industrial products, construction materials, oftentimes, that will drive up the prices of these things.

Paul Harvey 8:07
That’s the thing, we’ve had these shortages the past couple of years, we had no idea. I don’t think a lot of people, myself included, fully grasp the volume of stuff that is transported by rail, that like if that stopped, I can’t even imagine like the empty stores in the it would be like nothing that we’ve seen, in any of these shortages we’ve had since the pandemic started.

Frank Butler  8:28
I was gonna say I would think it’s almost like what I saw a Walmart for a few times when I was over there, like bread aisle being empty for a while or the chip while being completely empty, you know, just those kinds of things, toilet paper being gone for a while.

Paul Harvey  8:40
Like early 90s, Romania. Nothing.

Frank Butler  8:43
Nothing. And so that’s the thing. And while we’re gonna get into how that would actually probably have a ripple effect in the economy, we did want to bring some light to some other strikes that are going on out there, or that had been going on or that we’re threatening. Interestingly enough, there’s been a lot of rail strikes around the world, right? I mean, there’s been…

Paul Harvey  9:01
It’s a commonly striking industry it seems.

Frank Butler  9:03

Paul Harvey  9:03
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Europe where at least one country wasn’t having a rail strike at that time.

Frank Butler  9:08
Like the one England trains paralyzed again in UK is union stages, more strikes that was just recently that’s an in the UK United Kingdom. So Great Britain, they were having that it actually even delayed the Premier League Soccer from sorting out or football for that part of the world. Dutch rail strikes halt trains to and from Amsterdam and in the Netherlands. So you can see that, oh, garbage piles in Scotland raise health concerns amid strikes. So they’re having garbage being building up on the streets and that smells great. In the US. We have what tons of school strikes that happened before school started. We have the Lufthansa pilots striking just recently but that deal or they were about to strike and the Lufthansa management agreed to their concessions there. We had nurses in Minnesota and so on. I wouldn’t you had Kaiser Permanente.

Paul Harvey  9:59
Kaiser permanente out west. John Deere strike with 10,000. If you really want a rabbit hole to dive down, though, look up the Alabama coal miner strike that’s been going on since I want to say April 21.

Frank Butler  10:13

Paul Harvey  10:14
And it has been brutal. There’s allegations about…the company sued the union for damages because of the strike, you know, a judge found in their favor for like $13 million in the minor. So like, we’re not paying that. What do you like? That’s the point of a strike is to cause economic damage.

Frank Butler  10:29

Paul Harvey  10:30
There’s been some like…I don’t remember all the details, but…explosions. Things have been like blown up gas line or something, some other stuff. And the company is saying that the striking workers did it. And the striking workers are saying, No, we have we have evidence that the company did it. They’re, you know, trying to blame Framus for it, basically, it is while much like the railroad strike, we never hear anything about it. But yeah, that’s, that’s a fun rabbit hole to go down.

Frank Butler  10:55
That’s so fascinating. And it’s really interesting that we’re seeing so much of this going on. And of course, there’s a lot of reasons for it. For sure. I think there’s a lot of people who felt mistreated during the pandemic, are you looking at the rail strike? I mean, if you look at these people, they’ve been forced more and more. I mean, even the comment in one of the articles and train engineer I hear, he said, the railroad wants to control 90% of my life, when I can work when I’m free not to work, and so on. 90%. I mean,

Paul Harvey  11:27
That’s like, true. If you do the math, like the hours it works out, like they got like 1010 hours, between shifts, when they’re mostly on call anyway, common thread of a lot of these strike people striking that they were told during the pandemic, that you have to go to work and risk your health because you’re an essential worker. So essential, here’s your crappy paycheck and nothing else, no time off and doesn’t balance out like wait a minute, I’m so important, after go to work everyday risk my health. But I’m so insignificant that you don’t need to pay me anything. How does this happen?

Frank Butler  11:57
It’s interesting, because this goes back to something we had discussed at some previous time on the podcast, whether or not it’s an episode we had published or not yet I don’t I don’t recall. But I do remember saying that. It’s something like General Motors 4% of their costs are really associated with people. And if you just saw, like, for example, with the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, their rail subsidiary, that was the smallest percentage of their of their revenues, was their employee smallest…

Paul Harvey  12:26
The smallest expense you mean? Is their employees?

Frank Butler  12:27
Yes, it’s the smallest.

Paul Harvey  12:28
And they’re another one that went from like, 50,000, to like 14,000, or something in the span of a decade, employees.

Frank Butler  12:35
There’s a thing as being to lean. And what happens is people are picking up more and more responsibilities. They’re having to work these longer hours, and it’s not okay, right? It’s squeezing it too far, for what for why you returned $124 billion to shareholders, you’ve exploited your people. And that I think, will cause more damage in the long run, and not just to your company. But obviously, in this case, it could have had a significant disruption to our society, in the United States as we know it.

Paul Harvey  13:04
And this, I think it’s important not to fall into the trap of saying, well, evil management, the people making the decisions are regular people that are working in a system that incentivizes what they’re doing. So every quarter, every fiscal year, whatever, you’ve got your numbers that you’re trying to beat the last year’s numbers. And so you’re you’re squeezing as hard as you can year in year after year, after year after year. Just gradually, you get to the point where you’re doing completely absurd things. And you have been doing completely absurd things like this for years, and people have gotten used to it or whatever, until it finally reaches a breaking point like this, when you have a strong job market. And when you have people who are being told that they’re essential, but aren’t important enough to get time off when they’re sick. Eventually, the powder keg is going to blow.

Frank Butler  13:52
And with the powder keg blowing, especially right now, I think this is where we can segue nicely into the broader end of this whole topic. That’s going to be we’re looking at this uncertainty right now. Right? There’s this whole economic uncertainty, we’re hearing the term recession, we’re hearing about more layoffs happening. This would have sort of accelerated some of that, you know, maybe you had been furloughs or what have you. But…

Paul Harvey  14:18
What two days ago, we were planning this episode to be like, okay, the S just hit the fan with the railroad railroad strike. It seemed like it was a done deal. I mean, that’s a high level of uncertainty to be living with.

Frank Butler  14:29
Yes. And that whole thing, you know, are we in a recession? And it’s really weird, because we’re having these really just interesting economic times right now. Right. And I think this has been the case for us for some time is that we’re going through these really interesting economic situations that challenge the common thought of what we think about what a recession is, or what might be the…

Paul Harvey  14:50
I don’t even want to hear that word anymore, like just the semantic nonsense. The economy is challenging in some significant ways. That’s all that matters. Inflation is high gas. Just went down like a huge amount. And yet overall inflation still basically stayed the same last month. I mean, there’s bright spots. And there’s challenges. As always, just lately, the challenges have been quite fascinating challenges. Like you said.

Frank Butler  15:13
They’re fascinating, especially when we’re looking at two jobs for every one unemployed person available. And we’re still sitting around this unemployment rate that’s sort of record lows, which, again, we’re getting these confusing signals. And that’s not to say that we’re not going to reset a little bit, or there isn’t a recession looming. But certainly the railroad strike would have had a pretty profound impact in a lot of these, I would almost say, our funding foundational necessities with food and so on, we already have a have a car…like an issue with getting new cars out as it is.

Paul Harvey  15:47
Would have been a golden era for truck drivers. If there were enough of those, so we’re short on those two. All right, they got their whole other set of labor management issues going on already.

Frank Butler  15:56
That’s been a big thing is that, you know, the truck drivers are short on drivers and companies are scrambling to try to…

Paul Harvey  16:02
Although they’re not. They have enough people who are qualified to drive. They just keep treating them like crap. So people are like, No, I don’t want to do that job anymore.

Frank Butler  16:10
Yep. Another example of but that’s so fragmented, it’s hard to get the unions there to, at least for those like long haul. I know, there’s truck trucker unions and such, but it’s much harder when you have so much fragmentation that

Paul Harvey  16:23
A lot of them are one man operations.

Frank Butler  16:27
Or they’re small, like three or five drivers. It’s kind of thing. Yeah, so I look at this, and you go, Okay, so what’s going on? And what do we deal with, and it’s just really, really chaotic time. And this led the Harvard Business Review to release a newsletter, this just recently, like just a couple days ago, that was talking about is this, what is the great apprehension. And the whole idea of the great apprehension is because we’re starting to see all these things going on, we’re hearing more layoffs. But then we’re also hearing about these like rail strikes, and all these things, that starts creating anxiety for people, right, because at the end of the day, it’s about the unknown. If it’s the unknown, we have no idea of like what’s happening. And we’re not getting good answers. Because this person over here saying x, this person over here saying why this person over here is saying z. And it just they’re all kind of in it for their own sort of talking points. And at the end of day, let’s just put it this way, most of them are wrong. Anyway, there’s very few we’re ever right about any of this stuff. But that’s what we do, though, that’s what we do is we try to latch on to something that gives us some sort of concrete, certainty, even if it’s wrong.

Paul Harvey  17:41
Even if we sort of suspect it might be wrong. It’s something to latch on.

Frank Butler  17:45
Yes, exactly. And so we latch on to that. And, and so we have this whole thing about the great apprehension. And that’s what’s going on. And what’s really interesting in this situation is that apparently, what happens to employees is that they go in typically, two broad directions, either they try to work harder, and kick up their efforts to, quote, prove their worth, while another faction of people will pull back is already the as that they’ve already been cut. So we’ve got this divergence, right? On the one hand, its people are working harder. And it kind of reminds me of hustle culture, and sort of that reinforcement of that. Whereas on the other end, it’s like, oh, I’m quiet quitting now, because I feel like I’m gonna get laid. I mean, who knows? I mean, I don’t know. It’s just this whole sort of chaos going on. And, and at the end of the day, I really do think this is just about self preservation. What’s going on? What’s my coping mechanism? And how do I cope, some people will cope by, alright, I’m just going to accept the inevitable what might not even be the inevitable,

Paul Harvey  18:44
I’m gonna skip to the punch line here is that if you’re coping like that, in the face of uncertainty, you’re doing it wrong. If you have structure your life in such a way, to the extent that you can, that you’ve got a built in buffer for whatever the future may bring, because, you know, we don’t always get these, like, threats telegraphed the way they are right now, you know, sometimes 911 or COVID just happens, and all of a sudden, things just change from one day to the next. We rarely rarely get any kind of ramp up time to prepare for things like this. So to the extent we call it conservation of resources theory in academia, but to the extent that you’ve got a buffer of quote unquote resources, which means money and financial resources, but also social support in place and keeping that resume Yeah, so if this little pad thing something bam, you wake up one day and it’s not a good day, you’re like alright, well I’ve already got a polish up resume I’ve already got you know, connections with these other employers. I’ve got a six months saving six months emergency fund saved up find it sucks, but it’s not so bad. Like that’s, that makes you mad. Apprehension is still there. But it keeps it from becoming the great panics.

Frank Butler  20:04
And I think that’s key too. And if you’re in a situation where you’re living paycheck to paycheck, I would almost be willing to bet that in your city that you’re closest to or that you’re in, there are probably resources provided by the city, or even your state that will help you with figuring out how you can manage your finances a little bit more they provide you like free sort of financial planning, to at least help you start putting a little bit aside. I mean, I’m not even talking about putting in and making six months of emergency fund like out the gate, I’m just saying, Hey, start disappearing, live $10 into an off site savings account. If that’s all you can do and have it do it from the day your paycheck goes in every paycheck, so you don’t even think about it. And have it be off site versus in your typical standard big account where you see it.

Paul Harvey  20:55
I did that with $50 when I started my started working at University New Hampshire, audit, like automatically just went to some other savings account and never saw the paycheck. And I never really gave it much thought until like five years have gone by as to how much I have in that account. Now. It was like $6,000 Oh, my God, I had no idea. I’ve got this like, I mean, I I knew it was there. I know how much it was. But you never thought about it. Yeah. And that’s small amounts of money. You know, they add up the the best. What’s that saying? Like, the best time to start doing this was five years ago, the second best time is today.

Frank Butler  21:30
Yeah, it just, it just starts small, it’s just a great thing to do. And over time, you will find that that will give you some security, especially as you start figuring out other things too. But at the end of the day, that’s just one piece. And like I said, keeping your resume up to date is an important factor. If you’re only doing a resume, I sometimes recommend people to keep what we would call a curriculum vitae, which is just keep track of all the things like whatever you’re getting like acknowledged for it work like an award. Or if you’re doing something new that you hadn’t done before, you’re getting the nutrients, document all that stuff. So you can tailor your resume for a job. You don’t want to give them the CV, but this way you can at least pull the pieces out because I don’t know about you guys, but I am hugely forgetful about some of the things that I’ve even done in terms of like, I’ll remember the outcomes from it or whatever I’ve learned, but I don’t remember actually having done it. It’s just like, oh, it’s in my brain. Now.

Paul Harvey  22:23
There’s at least once my annual review for you know, we submit like a summary all the stuff we did, like Yeah, I think this was everything. And guess what was my department chairs, like? Didn’t you do like there’s some major huge thing? Like, didn’t you do that big freakin thing? Oh, yeah. That just completely? Yeah, just Yeah, to keep it all in a running catalog of some sort.

Frank Butler  22:47
Exactly. And so that’s, that’s the stuff that’s critical, right? That’s the stuff that we don’t think about. And I, you know, I don’t know, it’s just so funny, because

Paul Harvey  22:56
Even if you’ve been coaching your kids Little League team, you know, like all that stuff that you do, that’s a value to somebody else.

Frank Butler  23:01
And that way, you can again, tailor your resume to the job that you might be applying to. In the event this happens. Now. There’s this HBR article that deals with layoff anxiety. And one of the things it says is is to quote examine what evidence you have that points, the likelihood of a layoff and whether or not you will be impacted. So these are some of the things that they had put in there for cues to look out for in the event, you are starting to get concerned about potentially being laid off. First is has your manager asked you to implement cost saving measures. I mean, that’s that’s fair. The second one is has the company instituted a hiring freeze our sales consistently consistently down and by that, you know, thinking quarter over quarter. So how do we do the quarter before? How are we doing the quarter before that? Where we are now? Are those down? Obviously, if sales go down, that means that there’s going to potentially be some budgetary issues coming up. But that doesn’t always indicate layoff, right? I mean, we wanted to kind of think about the evidence as a whole. Is your workload lighter than usual? That’s an interesting one. To me. It’s like, Hey, is your workload lighter? Is that because they’re now starting to take that and assign it to a different department to different org? Are they starting to shave that part of the business away in some capacity? Outsource it? Who knows? Right? And are you being pushed out of meetings you previously participated in? Now, I think that to me is like the biggest red flag and I’m about to be out.

Paul Harvey  24:31
Next to like, your login password stops working. That’s probably

Frank Butler  24:38
That one’s the evidence that you’re going out that day. You just haven’t probably already happened to it. And you know, even interestingly, too, I have a former student of mine who works at Ernst and Young and just recently Ernst and Young announced that they’re doing they’re doing the split right there. They’re splitting their auditing from their consulting businesses. And interestingly enough, they all heard threw the press about the split before they even. And he’s on the consulting side. So I thought that was very interesting because I sent it to him was like, you probably know this. He said, Yeah, they got on it. He just told us that they were doing it but didn’t give us any information. We’re getting more through the media. So just to give everybody insights like, hey, companies are bad at communicating. And so,

Paul Harvey  25:23
And social media is really good at communicating and yeah

Frank Butler  25:27
Really good at communicating negative stuff. But you know, it made me continue to think about this idea of a lot of the stress comes from different things, right. One One is the idea of the rumor mill. In gossip Oh, my god, yeah, it really is about rumors, turning into gossip, whatever. So that’s one avenue.

Paul Harvey  25:46
I’m thinking of that guy in the office space, though, like every day, like anything anyone did. He’s like, That’s it. We’re all getting fired.

Frank Butler  25:53
Yes. So I came across this article that’s was publishing culture and organization in 2021, by lift in Wikstrom. And I just briefly want to touch on this because it’s got anything about the rumors. And in their in their world, they defined basically, that a rumor that’s pretty much unchecked turns into gossip. And then gossip is what turns things in, which I thought was interesting in its own right, because I always kind of conflate. I always think rumors. So I thought that was an interesting progression in there. But they basically said that rumors were a key source of information for managers. Now thinking about that, it’s not that there’s key source of information for them to, you know, they’re finding out through the rumors, it’s more along the lines of it’s a key source of information, to understand what their people are not getting for information, in a sense, right? You know, in the, in the absence of information, people are going to fill it in with stories. Managers trust in informal information created managers trust, so managers trust in informal information, created trust among staff members in their managers ability. So basically, the manager treating it like it’s a real thing, because to them, and they’re perceived, they’re perceiving it as real. Whereas rumors are filling in

Paul Harvey  27:07
Perception is reality until proven otherwise. Yeah.

Frank Butler  27:11
And so that helps increase the managers trust. So they’re right, there’s like, listen to your people, right? Mindful communication thing. And then negative rumors can turn to gossip, when not recognized and handled competently. So basically, if you know, let’s say that, that these rumors are going on as a manager, you have to go and stifle them in some way. Now, obviously, that’s going to require you to one acknowledge that that rumor exists. And then to make sure that you’re providing information that’s got some level of concrete aspect to it. Now you might as manager be just as clueless as everybody else. And that’s not also

Paul Harvey  27:45
But…don’t let people think you know, more than you really know. Yeah.

Frank Butler  27:48
Right. But at least you’re acknowledging that this is a thing and you’re like, Hey, I’m going to do something about it. Right? I’m going to try to find out that’s, that’s your job, right?

Paul Harvey  27:57
And yet, there’s been, we’re all kind of conditioned into this, like, this mindset. And from all the way to the top, you see it with the government all the time, it drives me nuts like, Well, we, we said this, because we you know, we didn’t want to cause an overreaction or panic. Like, we’re talking about adults here, right? Like, you can be straight. And I think really, the debate has become moot at this point. Because like your example, the Ernst and Young example, kind of indicates the information is going to get out. Do you want to be the one delivering the information to people? Or do you want to let Twitter do it for you?

Frank Butler  28:30
Don’t let Twitter do it for you. So. So there’s those things now here’s some additional things. One, going back to the HBr, sort of those questions. It says that if the answer’s no to those, then you probably have low risk. If you find that you’re that you still are having these thoughts it says to try quote, mindful breathing, says imagine letting go of the unhelpful thoughts on your out breath. Now. I would say Nixon is also a great move. We’ve talked about Nixon trying to just clear your mind and just focus in on something mundane.

Paul Harvey  29:05
Yeah, and let your mind rest, like anxiety, and worry. It’s tiring to your brain. You know, just like focus on the faucet dripping or whatever, for five minutes or whatever. You’d be surprised. But you know, those working exercises, they sound sort of cliche and silly, but damned if they don’t work, you know.

Frank Butler  29:25
It’s the intentionality and that’s why it works. The intentionality it’s you making an intentional action. Good point that makes your brain go, Okay, I’m doing an active thing to try to do again, because if you just try to go, I’m just going to ignore it. And you just try to do other things like keep yourself busy. You’re not being active towards trying to go okay, I’m not alone.

Paul Harvey  29:48
And your brain is not ignoring like that. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff going on, that you’re not conscious of that still happening, right, unless you take control.

Frank Butler  29:56
Now the also in this HBR article, too. I just we’ve covered this one. A little bit, but I thought there’s some good extra pieces to this. It says, Are your projects high value? Is your work revenue generating? Are you signed to initiatives that senior leadership considers important, if not, directly recommend speaking to your boss about modifying your workload, and which I think is interesting.

Paul Harvey  30:19
Touchy in times of potential layoffs but yeah

Frank Butler  30:21
Yup. And then this is this is one that I really do. It’s basically says, work on developing your network with internal stakeholders. And keep your ear to the ground about news of reorganizations or restructurings. So basically, it’s telling you to go out and network internally. Listen, listen to the rumor mill basically. Yeah, in essence, yes. And says, likewise, don’t be don’t wait to begin re engaging your network, reconnect with old colleagues and managers, join an industry group or trade association. You’ll feel calmer about possible change if you have a supportive people in your corner.

Paul Harvey  30:57
That’s what I was trying to get out with, like this the social support aspect of yes, you’re coping resources. Yeah,

Frank Butler  31:03
Yes. And that’s a perfect aspect of it. And some other examples for and here’s what we were just saying, set aside a few hours and make sure your resume portfolio and LinkedIn profile are up to date. So as it goes through, let’s say your instead of spending some time on social media, you have some intentionality about preparing yourself in the event of a layoff. And so some things you can do about looking at improving your LinkedIn, for example, is go see what some others have done for their LinkedIn profiles. And imitate some good actions there, right, obviously, using your information, but do something like that,

Paul Harvey  31:40
If you’re in the type of job where LinkedIn profiles are relevant

Frank Butler  31:45
Yeah, and I think, you know, for job searches who’s becoming ever more surprising amount are. So even if the layoff so it here says basically, even if that layoff doesn’t happen, you you’ll be better positioned to have to make a move if you ever have to make that move, right, like you’ll be able. Now, this one is interesting to me, because this one, I never really, I guess I do this, and I think we all do to some extent, but it’s deployed defensive pessimism. I’m intrigued. Yes. So it says opening, make worry, work to your advantage by taking your fear out of its extreme. Ask yourself, what would you do if you were laid off? What are the next steps that you would take? Walk through your plan in detail, anticipate how you deal with obstacles such as your finances, health care and finding a new job? Now see, this one? I find is kind of what strategic management is about. There, right? Yeah, it’s that man, right, we’re going to create a short term plan. But thinking about the big picture, so you like think about where you where you see your life being as far out as you can see it right. What would you like out of life? And go, Okay, well, you know, that’s that you have to just start taking little baby steps to get there overtime, right? It’s, it’s an accrual of time. But what do I need to do now, to ensure that I still keep that as my long term objective, as being possible, still right, as making sure that we can still get there. And I think the exercise just simply of planning out every detail, if you were to have to go home, with no job, and start mapping out what it is that your next steps would be? Brilliant, I mean, it means that now you have a plan, you’ve thought through it. And it’s just like we told, you know, entrepreneurs or create a business plan, it’s those same kind of things is you’re mapping out certain things that give yourself something that takes away uncertainty, right. And that’s what’s cool about that. And they call it defensive, pessimism.

Paul Harvey  33:44
I had never thought of it, describing it that way. But I know it works. I like it.

Frank Butler  33:50
And it basically it says that research shows that mentally rehearsing your response to worst case scenarios, helps harness anxiety, instead of allowing it to harm you. Which I think is fascinating. That’s that’s one that I’ve never really thought about. It’s a new thing to come across. And again, this is why you listen, the Busyness Paradox, because I’m enjoying it to find out all sorts of new fun stuff out there, and hopefully help you cope a little bit more with this. Something else here. It’s like rally resilience. This deals with things like well, thinking back about the three hardest challenges you’ve overcome.

Paul Harvey  34:23
And that this builds resilience like, right, if you have these challenges, know that you’re building resilience for the future to I mean, you made it you’re listening to show you survived COVID You’re old enough, you survived 911 year, you’ve, you’ve made it through stuff before

Frank Butler  34:39
Us. Exactly. And using that to say, Hey, I’ve always bounced back. And I mean, what that does is shows that you have this resilience, and things don’t work out. I mean, it’s really easy to get doom and gloom and I think social media has a tendency. And it’s not just social media. I think the news these days has the tendency to do that. I mean, I’ve

Paul Harvey  34:58
If you’re watching cable news, you’re poisoning your mind

Frank Butler  35:01
I mean, like, even I have struggled sometimes with the news in trying to fight that, like, my gosh, it’s all bad. It’s all bad. It’s all bad. It’s like, what are we doing?

Paul Harvey  35:12
It can’t be all that happy. I mean, there’s a lot bad, but there’s got to be good stuff, right? Yeah, but you know, doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead or whatever. Yeah,

Frank Butler  35:19
And I just I run into this so much. And, again, it’s just trying to sometimes ignore it, avoid it, stay away from it for a little bit focus in on what you can control, which is in your sphere, of, you know, trying to understand where you are, specifically ignore the extra external, unnecessary annoyances

Paul Harvey  35:39
We cut the cable years ago, like we don’t have TV really. So I haven’t watched or been in the vicinity of TV news, cable news, in five, six years, it makes you noticeably happier. I mean, it’s not that there aren’t bad things happening in the world, but they’re not top of your mind all the time, those things aren’t going to, you’re not going to fix anything by being constantly reminded about all the problems in the world. So give yourself a break. Like you said, We’re gonna what you can control personally.

Frank Butler  36:05
That’s the thing, right? Work on what you can control and, and really recognize that there’s a lot of externalities, that it’s not doom and gloom, but you gotta go that at the end of day, I have nothing I can do about that. Let me just focus in on what I have the media coverage to deal with. And that’s things like, you know, improving your connection with your spouse potentially or your significant other, your family or not even improving that just making sure that you you have that there and leverage that yeah, friend, a friend, it doesn’t matter. Pet

Paul Harvey  36:38
VM, if you have one, you know, if if you’re lonely and single work on that, put your put some other priorities on the side. And you know…

Frank Butler  36:48
Well, and that’s what this next thing says is it says invest in self complexity. And I think that’s exactly what you’re saying. Right? Invest in things, because it says that there was a study in the frontiers of psychology, where the researchers found that people who reduced themselves to one attribute so I’m just reading this right off of their their job, if they reduce himself to just their job, yet, they felt dehumanized, like nothing more than a machine or who had higher levels of disengagement, depression, and burnout. So what the selfs complexity idea is, is to reflect the number and diversity of attributes that make up the meaningful aspects of who you are. And so therefore, it’s about diversifying your sense of self. And, you know, I just, personally, I find that fascinating already in itself, I just like that aspect. So thinks that thinking about things like, your personal life, or I think you mentioned, like if you’re coaching a little league team, you know, just whatever it’s like, put time into your hobbies, spirituality, health, you know, go start exercising, or building a Lego or hitting a golf ball or something, right, just just start adding things to increase your identity.

Paul Harvey  38:09
You can see what’s on my finger right now.

Frank Butler  38:11
Paul’s got a Yo yo, for those who…

Paul Harvey  38:14
I got into yo-yoing during the pandemic, my, my daughter brought home a yo yo from little toy box at the dentist one day, and I started playing with it. And there are times like, especially when you’re trying to think through something challenging, or just distract yourself or whatever, these little hobbies that you might have, where you can practice at some trick and get better at it and have like that instant feedback, instant sort of dopamine gratification thing from something that’s actually healthy and not like Doom scrolling. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous and silly, but it’s, it’s beneficial.

Frank Butler  38:48
It really is. So I think those are some really interesting things to consider, again, that whole idea of take constructive action. So basically work on your resume work on developing your your network, and making new connections or reconnecting with others that you’ve worked with in the past or what have you joining a trade association, blah, blah, blah, defensive pessimism where you map out a plan of action for what you would do if you were laid off, rally resilient. So work on your resiliency by sort of thinking about those times you went through things. As Paul said, The pandemics is great one, you made it to the pandemic. In this example, here, when it was like, This person didn’t get into their top choice of college. And that bothered them. Another one talked about going through a divorce. And it’s like, Hey, what are those things do? It’s like, hey, it’s I got through them, and I continue to move forward. And those are the things it’s about moving forward, right?

Paul Harvey  39:44
It’s the only way you can go so you may as well make it work,

Frank Butler  39:48
Right? Make it work, and then invest in that self complexity. So invest in that your identity, right don’t make it just about your work. Find other things that define who you are.

Paul Harvey  39:58
Make yourself interesting, I’ve heard before.

Frank Butler  40:00
Don’t deal with people who are trying to tell you that you can’t go to the doctor and try to make you like, feel bad about or get fired. That’s your health is important. Bottom line,

Paul Harvey  40:13
And you know, all these people striking are showing that we’ve kind of largely been conditioned to believe that we’re at the mercy of all these economic fluctuations in the decisions made by our higher ups and management and political leaders and whatnot. And you know, all these hundreds or 1000s of people striking, threatening strike, sometimes it against the wishes of their union leaders or against the law, sometimes, they’re just saying no, like, were people who, like we get we get a say in this. So can you.

Frank Butler  40:47
And, that’s it right. And I think this all ties back. This is why we’ve been seeing things like the quote unquote, great resignation, we’re seeing things like quiet quitting. I think all those tie into sort of what we’re seeing here, too is these opportunities. I’m in theme. Yeah, there’s a lot of this going on right now. And I think one of the things the pandemic taught us is that we could certainly have a little bit more freedom, or flexibility in the work environment for our people today. The technology affords it, everything is there, all the pieces are there. If you’re a manager, it’s time to figure out ways to make this work for your people. And if you’re not going to be laying people off, make sure that you’re pretty, you’re pretty clear about that.

Paul Harvey  41:33
Yeah. Don’t use panic as a motivational tool. Like, yeah, keep them guessing somebody more motivated to work hard, like now that that is going to backfire on you.

Frank Butler  41:44
Yes. So if you’re, if, again, if you’re starting, if you’re one of those people who’s feeling anxious about layoffs, or you’re anxious about the economy, there are things there’s actions that you can do, we’ve laid it out, we’re going to share the link to this HBR article, if you can get access to it. If not, again, this is one of those things, try to find it, get it from somebody, but we’ll provide the link by any means necessary. Yes. But you know, that’s, that’s a good good aspect of it there. Or, you know, just take what we’ve said, and just try to find more information on those. If you have to buy the article directly from HBr. Because they’re not giving it to you, it’s like nine bucks. But

Paul Harvey  42:19
Yeah use your Google…Google-fu I’m sure you can find it

Frank Butler  42:24
Yeah, use those uses big headers, right, like, like talking about like building your resiliency, that kind of stuff. Broadly, it’s about trying to move forward. And at the end of the day, honestly, if you’re unhappy at your work, and you’re worried about it, this is the best time to now put yourself in a position to do better for yourself.

Paul Harvey  42:44
You will wish you did five years from now, yes. Or you can be glad that you did five years from now, your choice?

Frank Butler  42:51
And I’ll just say it, I believe in you. I do. And if you’re a manager and your company’s struggling a little bit, reach out to Paul and I will help you out.

Paul Harvey  43:00
If we can, we certainly will.

Frank Butler  43:01
I don’t know were…you got anything else on this?

Paul Harvey  43:04
No, I think

Frank Butler  43:04
Oh, I will. I’m gonna do this on your behalf. The other day, Paul and I were prepping on what we wanted to do for this episode. And he had made a comment about automating the good habits. Automate the good habits.

Paul Harvey  43:22
I had no idea where you’re going. That’s right automate the good habits, not the bad ones.

Frank Butler  43:26
For example

Paul Harvey  43:27
Like automatic savings.

Frank Butler  43:28
Savings, just set it up where like the day your paycheck comes in, $10 goes out, or fit whatever you think you can afford to do. If it’s $1 to $1, I don’t really care. Make sure that you’re putting money into your 401 K, you know, that’s up to the match that your company does. If you have that, if you’re not doing that, you should slap yourself in the head and go, I gotta do that now because you’re giving free money. You’re giving up part of your benefits package.

Paul Harvey  43:54
And I don’t want to hear like I can’t because, you know, my, like car payment and stuff like that. No, no, no, I just pull a Dave Ramsey. If you have to, like sell your car, buy a bicycle with a broken tire like, I don’t know, I don’t again, your future self will thank you very much.

Frank Butler  44:10
I won’t go full Dave Ramsey but yeah, I mean, you’ll, I would say certainly try to seek out one of those financial programs provided by your city, your state that’s there to help people with their financial management. Even go I mean, honestly, even go to your like local college, your university or even if you’re an alumni of a university or college, go to them they probably have somebody they can you can talk to use our resources. Why not honestly.

Paul Harvey  44:36
The personal finance subreddit on reddit.com I find it has lots and lots of good advice, yeah. Wall Street bets….you know…

Frank Butler  44:44
Don’t do that.

Paul Harvey  44:45
Take with a grain of salt. But it is a lot of fun. They’re funny, but yeah, get your house in order before you start to

Frank Butler  44:52
Right. And again,

Paul Harvey  44:54
Doing what they’re doing.

Frank Butler  44:55
Automate. This is a good statement by Paul it’s automate the good habits. So automate the good habits automate things. Was like that automate making yourself update your resume every month, you know use your

Paul Harvey  45:06
Have it just pop up on the last day of the month.

Frank Butler  45:09
Use your calendar, use your Reminders app, whatever it is, I mean, all the phones these days have these little things and, and stick to it’s just start automating the good pieces. So I like for example, I now have gotten better about when I’ve done something for work I added to my veto, like that day, or if I know I’ve got something coming up even before I do it, I’ll go ahead and put it on, like teaching this particular class in the fall, I already had it on there before I even taught it. Because I knew it was gonna happen, you know, just just go ahead and just get in the habit of doing it as it happens.

Paul Harvey  45:40
I have not been good about doing that myself. But yeah,

Frank Butler  45:43
It’s structure. Remember, the last year was our year of structure. So that’s a structure. That’s the automate that good habits. Anyway.

Paul Harvey  45:50
So that’s funny. A year ago, we would have been like structure structure structure. And now we’re basically saying the same logic just never occurred to me, the overlap here, it’s we’re still talking about structure because it kicks ass.

Frank Butler  46:02
And it’s all about reducing that busyness and getting yourself out of just that funk that is only about my job, or blah, blah, blah, find yourself.

Paul Harvey  46:10
So you’re spinning your wheels, trying to keep your job, get your bills just barely paid. And it’s no fun.

Frank Butler  46:16
And if you’re a manager, here’s something you can do. If you’ve got an employee who seems to identify pretty much that all they have is work, try to find what they like and send them away for a day and have them go do it. He’d be like, Hey, man, go do this.

Paul Harvey  46:29
And not even necessarily in your role as a manager, but as a role in your role is like, for a worker, colleague, friend or co worker like this, you’re in a position that you, you know, you, you see things that other people don’t, just because you know, you’ve got a higher level position, you might be aware that, you know, someone could use a nudge in the, in a more healthy life direction, right?

Frank Butler  46:52
It seems sort of trivial, but trust me, it’s not gonna it’s not make sure that you know, you don’t have to get to know your, if you’re a manager, you don’t have to get to know your people in a super personal level. But at least I want to know the basics of what they enjoy doing outside of work, if they’re saying that there’s nothing or it’s something that’s super isolating. Maybe encourage them to do something that in some way, right? If it is gaming, it’s like, you know, maybe they’re finding that outlet in gaming, or if it’s building Lego, there are adult Lego organizations out there. I just, you know, the eight balls adult fans of Lego if it’s yo yoing, there are yo yoing groups out there. There are ping pong. I you know, table tennis literally, we call ping pong table tennis actually has associations clubs. Yeah, everywhere. Everywhere. I had no idea. There’s something for everybody. There really is. Nobody’s alone. That’s the one thing I’ve learned. Nobody’s alone on anything.

Paul Harvey  47:43
No one has to be alone

Frank Butler  47:44

Paul Harvey  47:45
And yeah, like this might sound like feel good silliness, but not sprint to a dark place. But when these incidents of workplace violence nears, we can tell almost all of them could have been can be prevented, simply by managers just saying, Hey, you don’t aren’t, you know, how’s life, just show letting people know that they’re not alone. So they feel less isolated, and they have some kind of connection. Like that’s perhaps the one common thread in so many of these, you know, the workplace shootings and everything that we happen on the first and 15th of every month in the US. They just slack a personal connection and psychological isolation. So

Frank Butler  48:26
It’s, it’s so true. So just to sum it up, again, real quick, separate fact from fiction that’s asking the questions of like, has your manager asked you to implement cost saving measures, has the company instituted hiring freeze are the sales consistently down workload lighter than usual? Take constructive action. So work on your network

Paul Harvey  48:43
Password’s not working…

Frank Butler  48:45
Passwords, take constructive action work on your LinkedIn, your resume portfolio networking with old bosses or with others, you know, put your ear to ground, deploy defensive pessimism plan out in the event you were to be laid off, like what you would do rally resilient. So think about the things you’ve managed to get through and realize that ultimately, I think you got through, might have stunk and it might have been painful or whatever. But you know, know that you can get through it and just know that you’re strong enough to do that. And then invest in self complexity. So don’t just be all about your job again, as Paul was saying, if if you just ask somebody how they’re doing it can go a long way. Because if they’re if they only identified about their job or with their job as their only thing, then you go in there take that away, disengagement, depression and burnout and if you take that away, that can in some cases lead to violence. So let’s let’s just treat people like people right. I mean, that’s as Kurt Topher, it said, it was twofold. Sorry, Kurt Seaford said on our interview, he said, lead people manage things, right. So, go with that.

Paul Harvey  49:52
Go with that. Well said. Good summary.

Frank Butler  49:55
I’m out. I’m going on strike.

Paul Harvey  49:57
Resume strike.

Frank Butler  49:59
Good day.

Paul Harvey 49:59
Good day. Our theme music is adapted from “It’s Business Time” by Jemaine Clements and Bret McKenzie. Our production manager is Justin Wuntaek. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we’d love to hear from you. Please send any questions, comments or ideas for future episode topics to input@busynessparadox.com, or find us on Twitter. Also, be sure to visit our website, busynessparadox.com, to read our blog posts and for links to the articles and other resources mentioned in today’s show. Finally, please take a moment to rate and follow or subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts or…I don’t know, wherever the heck you get your podcasts.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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