Pay attention. If you listen hard you’ll hear the other shoe dropping. As in-house designers, we’re all aware of the outsourcing/offshoring tsunami of career-killing corporate shortsightedness and greed in action. Well there’s another less visible wave of beancounter headcount cutting going on at the expense of our profession and the companies we serve – title deflation and responsibility inflation.
Here’s how it works. A company has an in-house department with seasoned experienced managers at its helm. These creative directors and team leads also happen to have higher salaries than their younger reports and more expensive benefits (vested 401Ks, more vacation time etc.). From the beancounters’ perspective, they might as well be wearing florescent bull’s-eyes on their backs.
The Finance pinheads, in their cost-cutting mindless budget reducing bloodlust, figure that firing them will save the company money (which it won’t when all that institutional knowledge walks right out the door taking all time and cost cutting efficiencies with them).
Now trying to fill those vacant positions with equally experienced designers and design managers would defeat the purpose because the new hires’ salaries would be as high as the professionals who were fired. So the trick is to bring in less experienced folks and drop them into a sink or swim situation (without the tools, training or experience needed to succeed – thus setting them and the remaining team up for failure).
There’s one problem, though. In the corporate world’s obsession with hierarchy, new staff can’t be brought in at the same titles and levels as their canned predecessors. A whole new level and group of positions needs to be created. HR quickly addresses the problem and advertises openings with new fancy titles that semantically and financially allows for the dumbing-down of the in-house team’s most critical asset – their leaders.
What you end up finding in the job postings section are positions with different names and markedly lower compensation than the original positions that were eliminated but with exactly the same set of responsibilities and expectations as the original positions. Who said that business execs aren’t creative?…