Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anyone Crying for Conan?

Feeling the rain pour down on the Golden Globes’ red carpet, Tina Fey commented “It’s not rain, it’s just God crying for NBC.” Though few are rushing to defend the network, not many human resource professionals or their employees these days are crying for Conan either. It seems that in this current economic climate, the conditions under which Conan is losing his job as host of The Tonight Show are not relatable for many employees.

As the harbinger of corporate change, HR professionals know all too well that, unlike Conan, employees do not have the expectation of job security anymore. Whether it was promised at the onset or not, no one outside of Team Conan, still relies on promises made in “happier times” from their employer. Economic circumstances have drastically changed. Corporate America has been forced to accommodate the strife. Layoffs are a grim reality. Gone are the days when one complained about one’s job or employer. No one can afford to be caught kvetching at the water cooler or, in the case of Conan, to an audience that one's employer “is headed downhill faster than a fat guy chasing a runaway cheese-wheel.” If a non-celebrity employee similarly disparaged his current employer, he or she would find themselves jobless without hope for new employment from another company sans positive references.

Moreover, HR knows that recently laid off employees are sadly grateful for the modest severance and COBRA benefits they receive upon losing their job. “Golden parachutes” are virtually extinct in corporate America these days. The $30-40 million that Conan will reap when negotiations are over do not resonate with the jobless. Certainly, no one is feeling bad for the person who stands to be financially rewarded as a multimillionaire from NBC’s misjudgment. Conan may know what time it is, but he doesn’t know that it is 2010. Times are tough for workers and the unemployed now. No one seems too invested in Conan’s plight.

Sorry he did not get to go on at 11:35 on NBC. The rest of the job market is not shedding a tear for Conan, especially since it will probably be laughing with him at 11:35 on another network soon.