Outsource Me…

I am reposting this here, because it is considered a ‘Personal Blog’ and is not appropriate for my topic at Examiner.com.  I understand that, and I should have thought of that before posting it there. 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment!

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I have been writing for Examiner.com since September 2010. Even though I applied for two other topics at the time as this one, my topic is Mesa Unemployment Benefits Examiner. I picked that as one of my choices because I was unemployed at the time (and still am), and it is a topic I can safely say I know something about. However, the topic turned out to be more limiting than I thought it would be. Even though the unemployment situation here locally and also nationally in the United States has gotten a great deal of attention, I am a local Examiner, and my content is supposed to be localized. Not only that, there are only so many ways and so many times you can tell your readers how to apply for benefits, and where to apply and so forth. Therefore I have also written articles about local job fairs and specific company hiring events; and have started reporting statistics weekly on the unemployment rate as they are released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

I have not written anything on my personal situation, and in fact I have made an effort to NOT bring my personal situation into the articles I have been writing. With my personal situation coloring so much of my daily life sometimes it is difficult to be impersonal about what I write. Because of that I have decided to start today with a description of how I came to be where I am now.

A little over two years ago I was laid off from my job at a major financial institution in Phoenix, Arizona. My job was to assist customers via email and telephone contact with questions about their credit card payments and other issues related to credit cards and online banking. After a rough few years during which I had been laid off a couple of times and lost a job I had worked at for over ten years, I felt with this position as if I were making some progress again. The job paid fairly well and the benefits were the best I had ever had on any job. I felt as though the company was secure and so was my position. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

One of the frustrations we had on the job in my position was that we frequently had to transfer customers to other associates when their issues were really not that difficult to solve. We simply did not have the proper access to assist them. Then one day not too long before I was laid off we were told things would be changing; departments would be consolidating and the responsibilities and access would be similar across several departments. Therefore we would have to transfer customers less often and would be able to deal with more issues ourselves. The company began to set up training classes so associates could learn new programs on the computer system, and associates began picking what sessions would be best for them. My team, which had gone through training together and onto the floor as a unit, would also be split up amongst several other teams.

Then we were hit with another announcement: the overnight shift would be shutting down and the associates working on that shift would have to be absorbed into the rest of the department.

What was behind this announcement? Outsourcing. Our call center was not a twenty four hour operation; it actually shut down at 8p.m. local time. However, there was an overnight shift that focused solely on answering email. During the day when we were not as busy on the phones, or there was a heavy volume of email we also answered some, but email was the only focus of the night shift. The company had now decided to ship the email department to Guadalajara, Mexico. Everyone, including the night shift now had to fill out shift bids. Since I was new I believed I was likely to be stuck with whatever no one else wanted; however I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to keep the shift I was already working even after absorbing the night shift. Therefore I thought everything was going to be okay. Unfortunately I was wrong.

One day I was called into a conference room with my team manager and his supervisor and told I was to be laid off. They did not call it a lay off, but that is of course what it really was. My team was the newest team, so of course we were the first target.

I am still not sure how many people from my team were actually laid off, thought I know it was at least four. I also do not know if there were people laid off from other departments, or from other teams. What I do know is that my plans and my life were once again in turmoil, and it was and is, a direct result of outsourcing. Outsourcing can and does affect people; it can and does hurt people. When a worker loses a job to outsourcing it is through no fault of their own, and beyond their control.  And it is often something that is depressing and extremely difficult to bounce back from.

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