Friday, 12 March 2010

The work dilemma

I mentioned the other day that I've applied for a new job. But nothing is simple in this life, and IF makes it doubly complicated, so that I really don't know what I want - there are too many permutations to think about.

The basic situation is that I enjoy the work I do, and I have the best head of department ever. He gives me a lot of freedom to do things how, where and when I think best - which means I can work from home two or three days a week and fit my work around the rest of my life. Everybody wins, because I don't have to take time off work for my appointments with the osteopath or the clinic, to wait in for the gas man, or for any of the other things which tend to happen between the hours of 9 and 5:30, and at home without all the interruptions of being in the office I get three times as much work done. Plus not commuting every day saves me a fortune in train fares.

BUT - and yes, it is a big 'but' - I work for a large organisation and the current leadership of the organisation doesn't support what I do. To put it in very broad terms, I work for a partnership where the partners want to maximise the profits every year so that their share of the loot will be a nice fat one, and my department is a cost centre.

We rely on the partners seeing the value of what we do, and at the moment there are too many people at the top who don't see the value in anything that can't be measured in figures on a spreadsheet. The value of our work is more long-term and in helping to avoid enormous future costs (like being sued for negligence), and some people think it's unnecessary, while others think it could be done for a lower cost, or should have a different focus.

The future of our department is therefore currently being reviewed, and one likely result is that we'll all be made redundant and in future the firm will outsource the work that we currently do. Another likely result is that they'll demand that we completely change what we offer and will make half the department redundant. In that case, it's highly unlikely that I'll get redundancy, as I'm the number two in the department - but my workload will increase hugely, and I'm likely to be doing a lot more of the sort of work I hate and have less time for the work that I consider important.

The job opportunity which popped into my inbox this week was for a very similar job in another firm, but I would be the head of a new department which is just being set up. That indicates clearly to me that the leadership of this other firm appreciate the value of what I do, and being able to set the department up from scratch and recruit my own staff to assist in the work of the department would be fantastic. And this sort of job is very specialised and doesn't come up very often.

On the other hand, the commute is longer, and at least for the first six months (and probably longer) I would have very little, if any, opportunity to work from home, so I'd have to do that long commute every day. And I know from experience that while some people pay lip service to the importance of what I do, when it comes to the crunch it's always going to be the cost that people scrutinise and try to reduce first, so I could be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire in that respect.

Then there are the other considerations - first, what if my current department does get closed down? If I hand in my notice before they start making people redundant, I could be missing out on a nice redundancy payout. On the other hand, if they only intend to make half the department redundant, by handing in my notice before the announcement, I could be saving someone else's job. Or could I be precipitating the decision to close down the whole programme once they realise that I won't be there to sustain the large part that I'm solely responsible for, and therefore costing other people their jobs?

And then we throw IF into the mix. Might I be able to have IVF #3 in the next two or three months? If it's successful, I want to be sure that I qualify for maternity pay, which wouldn't be the case if I changed jobs in three months' time (my current notice period). I also wouldn't want to start a new job while pregnant - I wouldn't be obliged to tell the new employer straight away, but I do think it would be pretty unfair on them.

But with my three months' notice period, plus how long the application process will take, we could be all done with the IVF by the time I was due to start the new job, and would either know that I'm never going to get pregnant or would already know that we had been successful. And the IVF appointments would all hopefully happen while I was in the current job, with the flexibility that it allows. And then we get back to the maternity leave dilemma - and the fact that I won't get maternity leave in any case if I'm made redundant.

At the moment, I'm burying my head in the sand and letting everything wash around me while hoping that the review of my current department is resolved quickly and the application for the new job goes slowly, so that the way forward might be a bit clearer by the time I have to make a decision.

But I can certainly see why the Chinese see "may you live in interesting times" as a curse. And these are nothing if not interesting times.


  1. Okay, my head is seriously spinning from reading this post. I kept changing my mind at each paragraph about what I would do in your situation and by the end of it I was so confused I felt like burying MY head in the sand! I wish I had some advice for you ... that is a very tricky situation to be in. I do think that you at least shouldn't make your decision based off the "what if" possibility that it could possibly affect someone else's job. You have to do what's right for you because this is your future and your job security. Besides that, is there any way to stall or drag out the process for the 2nd job while you wait to find out what's going on in your current job?

  2. I have to agree with Sonja. While it's very commendable of you to think of other's jobs, the reality is, you have to fend for yourself. Don't think of putting anyone else's needs before your own in this circumstance.

    Other than that, I have little in the way of advice. It's a very sticky situation. However, it sounds as though it won't play out quickly. I'm hoping that is the case for your sake. More time to think it over. More time for things to work themselves out.