On the Job

Under New Management

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, March 7, 2008; 12:00 AM

When management changes direction, there is typically a trial and error period. Shaking things up can sometimes be for the better -- and sometimes not.

Leading the office in a new policy direction is one thing, but being abusive to staff is another. With that said, what do you do when office life has turned from a joy to a pain as a result of the new CEO?

That's what this worker wants to know:

I have worked at a small firm for about four years, and loved it -- until now. We have new leadership under a new CEO who is a jerk. There have been staff reorganizations without alerting those involved beforehand. This person is also bringing in upper management that he personally knows and is rude and demeaning to staff members.

My physical and mental well-being is suffering because of the morale at work and I would consider leaving. However, I need to be completely vested in my 401(k) plan. I am getting up there in age and am concerned about retirement.

Should I stick it out for another year or so to get fully vested or cut my losses and head for the hills?

This worker needs to assess his work life and financial condition, suggests Marna Hayden, president of Bethlehem, Pa.-based human resource management firm Hayden Resources Inc.

For most companies, it can take an employee up to seven years to fully vest a retirement account. If this person only needs a little more than a year to reach that point, "he ought to analyze whether it's that much of a financial loss" to leave and be happier in a new job or whether to stay for the remaining time.

If he decides to stay, Hayden advises the worker to "not be so thin-skinned" about the new CEO's treatment of workers. The company is going to continue on with the new executive's style of management, she adds. "This is something that's not personal ¿ he's probably treating everyone that way."

However, if the employee is that miserable and his health is becoming affected, he should leave as soon as possible, suggests Hayden.

With a marketable skillset, he should be able to obtain another job despite his age, she mentions. The employee could even attempt to get a future employer to make up the difference in his retirement account.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com.We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

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