A few weeks ago, I had begun my morning work routine when a high-importance e-mail pinged in my inbox. Seeing it was from the company president, I immediately opened it.
The e-mail announced that our privately held company was bought by a corporation, with the deal to be finalized in 30-45 days. Our jobs were safe, but we would learn more at a company meeting in a few hours. Everyone was shocked. No one but the highest leadership knew that a deal was in the works.
Over the coming days, we were assured that there would definitely be no leadership changes for the first year. Both our and their leadership emphasized that we were sold from a position of strength to a like-minded buyer that wants us to just keep doing our thing. We offer a service the buyer needed from our facility, and we free up capital for our previous owners to reinvest in other areas of their business. Overall, it should form a net positive for our community, as it brings another pool of money to the table.
Nonetheless, change is scary. Even the most flexible person will feel uneasy at the prospect of such a large transition, especially when it comes completely out of the blue. We’ve had several different thoughts as we’ve moved through the shock of the past couple of weeks:
Thank Goodness for Emergency Funds
Mr. Steward and I have an emergency fund of six months of living expenses. Since we work for the same employer, we wanted to err on the large side with our fund. I am so glad that we did. I feel positive about the transition and the new corporation we are joining, but it is scary to think that we could have heard bad news. One likes to imagine that you would see the signs of a major downhill company trend, but the fact that this was such a surprise shows that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I can’t imagine the panic I would have felt if I didn’t know we had a 6+ month buffer to sort things out.
It’s All About the Benjamins (and Benefits)
Being seven months pregnant, obviously my first question was about the new corporation’s maternity leave policy. Fortunately, our HR Director was aware this would be a pressing concern. She assured me that their maternity policy was similar to ours. I won’t need to burn PTO I don’t have (or do any other crazy changes) to be paid for the first 6-8 weeks of leave. Phew.
The only change was that our company offers a two-week paid bonding leave, to be used anytime in the first year after the birth, and two weeks of paid paternity leave for Mr. Steward. They initially did not know if we would keep these benefits, but they have since extended them to any employee having a child before 2018. Paired with PTO that Mr. Steward has to burn to not lose, he will be taking the entire month of December off for Squidge’s birth, regardless of when she comes.
Our health care is also being set up in a “mirrored” plan, which means no major changes. The new insurance, in theory, should pick up where the old left off in terms of covering the pregnancy. We’ll see if the billing proves to be headache-free when the time comes.
In the short-term, the transition should be a lucrative one for us. We were promised a bonus, although we will not have precise amounts until the closure in a few weeks. Historically, the payout has been… generous. Like, make-a-huge-difference-in-our-financial-picture generous. Still, we don’t want to get our hopes up without hard facts, so we wait. They are also paying out the PTO banks for anyone who has one. Mr. Steward has a month of PTO banked, so that’ll be a nice extra paycheck.
A big decision we made in light of the buyout news is that Mr. Steward is going back to school. He has an A.S. now, and he has toyed with the idea of finishing up his Bachelor’s for a while. Our company recently launched a new college partnership that allows him to do the work online, at his own pace, and on his own schedule. With the company’s tuition assistance, it only costs about $500 a semester. The corporation has the same tuition assistance. He has prayed about the option, but the buyout news lit a fire under his feet. Seeing how rapidly job situations can change, he wants to be prepared. He hopes to use the “stuck at home with sleeping newborn on chest and familial help” time to knock out a few classes.
Chaos Is a Ladder
Overall, we feel like we can have two attitudes about the transition. We can panic, like so many we saw as the news spread that morning. We can get angry or frustrated about the many changes that our company will experience over the coming months. Or, we can decide now to assume things are going to work out for the best, especially until we see otherwise. We can treat this as a “chaos is a ladder” situation.
For those unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, the story’s arch-schemer (and our favorite character) Littlefinger presented his philosophy of life as follows:
Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to the realm, or love, or the gods… illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is. But they’ll never know this. Not until it’s too late.
So, we’re being a little dramatic. Still, we hope having a willing, flexible attitude and not only rolling with the transitions but helping to implement them will help us to “climb” as others’ fears and anger keep them down. As Mr. Steward says, God has been very good to us so far. There’s no reason to assume things will go poorly now.
Have you gone through a buyout or major company transition? How did it go? How would you feel if you received the crazy news that we did?