So here I was, ready to go to Prague as I stated in my last blog. You don’t need to guess what happened 10 days before my departure. Yes, Czech Republic closed their borders. So there I was with no place to stay and no money in prospect. I counted on some help from my employer-to-be. That turned out to be a mistake, a huge disappointment and an obvious mismatch.
Corona virus: helping each other
It is heart warming to see all of these private initiatives popping up in times of crisis. Rutger Bregman was right in his book ‘De meeste mensen deugen’ (soon available in English): people are no egocentric or selfish creatures. We are social beings.
Hotels who need to close are inviting doctors and nurses to stay with them for free (Italy). The biggest flower auction in the Netherlands is bringing flowers to nursing homes and restaurants donate their food to those who are in need.
Our government stated that every small business owner (that’s me) can count on a basic income for the next three months if they are in trouble. This is not a loan, it is a gift. This is how you take care of each other in a social environment.
Social environment in action … NOT
I immediately turned to my employer-to-be the moment I heard the news of borders closing down. My flight was already cancelled. Some days later I sent them an alternative proposal: I could work at their office in the Netherlands, get all my training (online), have the mandatory medical check and could start working. This position was a remote one in the first place: assisting executives in Dutch speaking countries. To me this sounded as a more than good alternative.
They were pleased with me being so proactive (wasn’t that one of the reasons they hired me in the first place?). Of course they had a lot of challenges so they would come back to me. So they did. On the day I was supposed to travel to Prague. They turned it down. They didn’t even negotiate with me. They didn’t even have a counter proposal. “Did they even look at it?”, I wondered.
But most of all, they told me (by email) that they couldn’t do anything for me. They were so sorry but they just left me with nothing. They just asked me to wait for this crisis to blow over and then I could come to Prague. I was stunned.
What happened next
I cried my eyes out. I became angry. I texted a friend and consulted another friend who has a lot of experience in Human Resources and used to work for the same company. They both told me that I should accept their decision. There is nothing else than acceptance of a situation. Is there?
Even though the company’s reaction wasn’t open for discussion, I wanted to tell them so much about the mistake they made. For the first time in years I had a sleepless night. I am a spontaneous person so I tend to react that way. I learned (through trial and error) that this is not the best strategy. So I waited until my anger decreased. I even recorded the words I was going to write down as a reply. It even crossed my mind to call her up.
I also tend to burn all my bridges which is a some cases maybe not the right thing to do. But I am not a diplomat. And I also accept who I am. So, instead of keeping the door open, I decided that I don’t want to work for them anymore. The next morning I wrote them back that I was no longer available for the job. After that, I threw all of my recording in the garbage can.
My view on this situation
So this was totally against my expectations. But more important: their reaction was totally against everything I believe in. It is so opposite of my values and believes. Luckily this is my personal blog so here I can state my point of view about this whole situation.
The lady who wrote me this email is working at HUMAN resources. And she is not a junior; she has a lot of experience. So from a human point view I wonder some things. First, why didn’t she bother to call me? That would be so much more personal. And second: did she ever re-read her email before sending it. Because if she did she could ask herself: “What if I was in her shoes, would I be glad when I received this email?”. ” Would I believe that this company is helping me?” Of course not. How can you send an email to a person knowing that you are doing nothing to help this person who is in distress. People are doing business with people, not companies.
Don’t do to others what you don’t want others to do to you
From a business point of view I also think this is such a bad decision. They just let someone go who they first hired. Could this company be so ignorant to believe that I would just sit and wait? Really? Living on a bench in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark and eating out of garbage bins? I hope they hired me because they see what an asset I am to the company. They made some efforts in this whole procedure. When I applied for this job, it was already open for some time. A Dutch native speaker, ticking all the boxes (and more) and is willing to come to a country with a much lower standard of living, is not easy to find.. And you just let that one go, just like that?
My expectation and this obvious mismatch
What did I expected? I expected that they would empathize with my situation and that they would see my worth to the company. And that they would not think in terms of short term solutions. I would expect a multinational to act in terms of long term solutions. Let’s do the math.
They could have easily offered to pay me €250 per week for every week that I could not enter Czech Republic. Probably worst case scenario: that would have cost them €4000 which is 16 weeks from now. They could have asked me to commit to them that I would come to Prague the moment the borders are open. I would have instantly committed. My guess is that this whole job procedure is costing them much more than €4000. Think of all the people involved: HR, Legal department, Contracting, Relocation ….. plus the fact that now somebody else needs to do the work they hired me to do for who knows how long. So in this case, it is a very bad business decision.
We are talking about a multinational with a revenue of 43,2 billion dollars in 2019. And this is their policy when it comes to dealing with people in times of crisis. Sure this will effect their revenue in 2020 but are going out of business for this? I assume not. I wonder what percentage goes to charity because in my option they suck at charity.
So maybe they didn’t see my worth after all and maybe it is a good thing that this whole operation was called off. Because everything happens for a reason. Where one door closes, another one opens. This whole situation showed me that we were an obvious mismatch and I am glad that I learned this before I moved to Prague.