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Weathering tough times in the workplace

Survival tips in case your company gets acquired

More than 44,000 jobs have been lost this year because of corporate merger and acquisition activity, according to an outplacement firm.

Typically, those who work for the acquired company have more reason to fear layoffs. But John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., said that's not necessarily true. He notes the acquired company could have been bought to fill a need for specific expertise.

Oracle Corp.'s deal for Sun Microsystems Inc. announced recently may be like that, he said. The two fit together "like jigsaw pieces," and may exist in more stand-alone fashion rather than being condensed together.

However, those who work at the headquarters of the acquired company in a support role — accounting, purchasing, marketing, human resources — should worry, Challenger said.

And "executives at the acquired company should be very worried," he said. "You only need one executive in each role."

However, there are some things you can do to try to protect your job.

• Let new bosses know what you've accomplished. They will likely not be aware. "Toot your own horn, more than you might normally," Challenger said.

• Develop relationships with people from the new company. The more people who can advocate for you in a new organization, the better. A merger can be a chance to erase bad blood with a previous boss — those people may be vulnerable to job loss now, too.

• Come early, stay late. Make sure people see you working hard, Challenger said.

However, sometimes companies are bought because their business is disappearing, and the buyer only wants access to their customer list. In that case, a lot of operations get closed, and there's not much you can do — so start looking elsewhere right away, Challenger said. Put an updated resume together and network.

Amid economic strife, small- business owners exercising

Small-business owners are concerned about their retirement savings, nearly half have put a freeze on hiring and they are drinking way more caffeine than they used to — but they haven't given up on exercise.

The survey of small businesses, companies with 100 or fewer employees, by American Express, found that 48 percent have instituted a hiring freeze, 39 percent have put in a salary freeze, and 37 percent are tapping their personal assets.

Nearly 80 percent are worried about saving for retirement, and 55 percent say their retirement savings are not on track. Three years ago, only 41 percent felt that way.

Meanwhile, almost 60 percent say they aren't planning any capital investments for the next six months. Of those who are, the biggest number, 30 percent, plan to put money into technology.

And 23 percent of small-business owners said they were drinking four or more caffeinated drinks a day, compared with 9 percent two years ago.

Exercise levels, however, remained constant. About a quarter of those surveyed say they still exercise every day.

American Express' business monitor survey is taken twice a year. It randomly surveyed 727 small-business owners by phone in February and March.

Associated Press

Weathering tough times in the workplace 04/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2009 4:31am]
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