1/14/2010

Corporate Survival Guide: Don't Get Fired

In my previous article on New Years Resolutions, the final item was “Don’t Get Fired”. But far from being the least important goal on that list, it was perhaps the most important one of all. First of all, Not Getting Fired (NGF) is such an important step toward becoming tolerated and eventually even relevant in the company. But also, in these times of economic hardship, company downsizing, and unreasonable corporate demand for competence, it is increasingly difficult to avoid getting fired, so it is important that this goal is the one you must strive to reach each year. Besides, Not Getting Fired is, according to one survey, an important way to keep getting a paycheck.

The inexperienced worker might think that Not Getting Fired can be achieved through initiative, hard work, and success, but they are, of course, completely wrong. HR won’t care who you are when they come to your cube with triplicate forms and a company-issued tazer. No, you must be far more clever and devious to win this battle. Here are some proven techniques that you can use to avoid getting fired in your situation.

Blame Someone Else

Sometimes, despite all of your efforts and bullet points to the contrary, you make a mistake. It’s human to make a mistake, but corporations, like politicians and other reptiles, are not human and typically do not tolerate error. Industrial accidents resulting in injury and death, product fraud costing the company millions in damages, plugging the break-room espresso machine with chewing gum and causing a minor explosion: these are just a few of the things that can be put down to simple human error on your part. But they’re also some of the things that can result in termination. So how do you recover from these misunderstandings?

The advantage to working in a big company is that there is always someone else to blame. Ask yourself: how many other people are there in my department? That is coincidentally exactly the number of people that you can point the finger at whenever anything goes wrong. It doesn’t matter whether they did anything, whether they know anything about it, or whether there’s any credibility to your accusation; the fact that you accused them will throw a delay into the process of corporate blame that should last long enough for you to weasel out of whatever you did.

Get Terminally Ill

Companies usually won’t fire someone that is terminally ill. This doesn’t come from any form of human empathy as much as a fear of bad PR and good lawyers. So all you have to do to stick around is to contract some terminal disease. This limits your time at the company overall, of course, but your job is safe in the meantime.

Die

A tactic closely related to the last one is to actually die. This approach has been a proven-safe measure against getting fired since ancient times. However, I wouldn’t recommend this strategy in general, as you lose some of the more interesting benefits from still having the job, such as living. This tactic was often used in ancient battles, where generals would fall on their swords rather than stick around for the humiliation of defeat. They certainly achieved their goal, but unfortunately weren’t around to enjoy it.

Claim Sexual Harassment from Everyone

Sexual harassment has become a serious issue in the workplace, resulting in lawsuits, firings, and hours and hours of required HR sensitivity training for employees to attend. The last thing the company wants is any charge of sexual harassment.

Of course, the simple thing to do if you know you’re going to be fired is to claim harassment from your boss, because that’s what everyone expects. But this tactic is so expected that the company will have measures in place to negate that claim. So you have to go bigger: claim harassment from everyone: your boss, your cube-mate, your HR representative, the guy in the mail room, the woman in Finance, the CEO, and even yourself. The more people you can drag into the situation, the longer it will take for the company to sort it out and the more inclined they will be to just step away from you and let you keep doing your job.

Be Somewhere Else

If everything else on this list fails and the company is going through with the act of firing you, then make sure you can’t be found. They can’t actually throw you out if they can’t get ahold of you. Sure, they can turn off your badge so that you can’t get back in the building, but who says you need to leave? That handicapped stall in the bathroom is larger than your apartment and you can always take showers with the spray nozzle at the sink in the break room. Become invisible and you might just hold onto your job even after every shred of dignity has deserted you.

Remember the Business Battlecry: “He who works and runs away lives to work another day.”

Cry

If the tactics above are unsuccessful and they’re coming to take you away, break down in tears. Besides having a cleansing affect on the soul, it’s just possible that you will spark some feeling, some idea deep inside of that HR representative that you’re going to get water and snot all over their suit and maybe they have better things to do that day than fire you.
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