Friday, 30 December 2011

What is job security?

Umbrellas - not doing a lot of protecting
With all the sad news of job cuts and redundancies I feel a strange reversal of role coming over me.

When I left British Airways around 17 years ago to work for myself, lots of people said 'I couldn't do what you're doing. I'd love to be my own boss but I couldn't cope with the lack of job security.' It was a scary thought, coming out from under the protecting umbrella of an organization that paid your salary with satisfying regularity at the end of the month.

It's true that over the years there have been times when things have been very tight. There are no guarantees when you work for yourself. Your next bit of earnings won't just come drifting in, you've got to go out and find it. And yet the whole idea that I was doing something risky compared with those who stayed working for a company, or a public body, assumes that there is such a thing as a guarantee.

But now when I compare myself with someone who has been made redundant, I feel strangely secure. They suddenly have nothing come in. I don't doubt it's harder for me to get projects going at the moment, but on the whole I can find ways to keep going. In a sense I have more security because I can't be made redundant. There isn't a circumstance where I would have to start again from scratch. What a strange reversal.

Image from Wikipedia


  1. Agreed, although I do find that there is a consistent desire to drive fees down to employed wages in the public sector based on poor understanding of the fact that wages include holidays, NI and so on.

    I have some sympathy for this as the public sector has tended to hire big 4 consultants at consultancy fees for several years at a time i.e. almost as if they are employees.

    A friend of mine was asked to do a day for a public sector organisation, involving some pre-diagnosis, delivery and a follow up report. He modestly charged £650 for this. They told him that they were putting it out to 'tender'.

  2. It's certainly true of magazine payments - I'm paid less now for articles for the same magazine than I was 10 years ago. (And one magazine recently asked me for a quote for a day's consultancy, rejected my offer and said they were expecting around £200 including travel.) Even so, I don't think it changes the thesis.