Why don't corporations advise employees about Y2K impact on personal lives?

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I work for World Vision, a nonprofit, international relief and development organization. What I don't understand is why senior management, including the Y2K remediation team, are mum about discussing the possible impact of Y2K "fallout" to employees on the personal level, let alone inform us about their plans if we have to shut down for a period of time (i.e., will we be furloughed with or without pay?) A coworker and I finally started an employee discussion group out of sheer frustration (and anger, at least on my part). It seems that fear of liability is what clamps their mouths shut of those with the knowledge, yet it feels completely unfair to employees who need help to understand the problem, how to prepare, what precautions to follow, and how to find reliable, updated information to stay current about Y2K. Any comments about how to approach senior management to speak more openly with employees, instead of waiting until Fall, as they have planned? Thanks

-- Kathy Bitschenauer (eagles@pacifier.com), April 10, 1999


Well Kathy, I doubt they will tell you much, just as they don't tell programmers much either. Don't want the sheeple to flee. I would suggest doing your own research (GaryNorth.com, Yardini, Yourdon and others of credibility). Then do what is best for you and yours.



-- Bob Pilcher (rpilc99206@aol.com), April 10, 1999.

I know of once case, first hand, where the CEO of a large company did actually prepare some remarks along these lines. So what happened? Nothing. The legal group told the CEO 'no way' and these remarks were pulled from the speech.

-- (lurker@home.now), April 10, 1999.

We did have ONE recent report of this:

Oxford Heathcare recomends employees prepare

Along the same line, we also had this report in Feb. Everybody jumped on GTE for spreading fear:

GTE advices bank customer to withdraw extra cash

I think it is a legal issue more than anything else. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 10, 1999.

Perhaps it also has to do with employers not wanting to lose employees to the hills, woods, other companies in smaller towns). It might also have to do with employers wanting their employees to stay productive, i.e., not worry their pretty little heads about what might or might not happen. The employees would probably spend even MORE time surfin' if they thought Y2K might be a problem!

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), April 10, 1999.

I work for a local non-profit association. The national federation did publish a piece last September in its internal newsletter, (that goes to local officers and directors,) informing them of the issue and suggesting preparations. Our state magazine to members also gave brief recognition to it and pointed people to government and other links on the web. One state president of the federation alluded to the written suggested preparations in his testimony to the Senate committee, but never came out and said what they were.

I have had occassion to ask our state president whether they would take a leadership role in informing members and he said "no," but they may come out with some sort of brochure later in the year.

Since December, I have had one hell of a time trying to convince my officers and directors that this might be a problem to them, both with embedded systems in their business and personally. The problem is that no one with "credibility" will step forward and admit it's an issue, so they just think I am an alarmist.

Finaly we had the local county task force (police and EMts) do a presentation. The video they used did not use kid gloves on the potential. Now they are individually preparing, but no one wants to take a leadership position on business prep. They still aren't convinced they might have a problem. (They are small ag producers and this scares the blazes out of me.) USDA surveys indicate that there may be a problem reaching small producers. I have experienced it first hand.

This is the

-- anon (anon@nopanic.net), April 10, 1999.

The hospital for which I work (in the mental health department, ironically) is preparing for one week of disruptions because "the prevalent view now seems to be that that is how long they will last." (Meanwhile, they're maybe half way through their own remediation.) Nothing in the fiscal year 2000 budgets I've seen indicates that anyone expects his or her department to function in any way differently than its functioning now.

It's in our hands. There IS no leadership except what we offer to our neighbors and community ourselves.

I've found that it helps simply to accept, and if possible find the dark humor in, the absolute absurdity of life as we know it--and to love it anyway.

-- Faith Weaver (suzsolutions@yahoo.com), April 10, 1999.

I have a next door neighbor, an executive for a very large Silicon Valley Computer Corporation. He's headed up their Y2K projects which are done and tested now. He was asked to be on the State of California's Governor's Y2K task force, declined because he's too busy, but assigned the job to one of his people. That way, he keeps a finger on the Y2K pulse at the state level.

Last weekend during an over-the-fence chat, he mentioned he has a draft letter on his desk for all employees, encouraging them to make Y2K preparations. The reason it's still in draft form and still sitting on his desk, is he doesn't know what to say.

His concern is "how much" does he recommend? He doesn't want to cause a panic and conversely, he wants his employees to feel secure enough to show up for work. That's his current corporate Y2K dilemma.

For the Valley, he thinks our greatest Y2K concern should be Asia. Also thinks we'll have brownouts and some blackouts, but be generally ok. Says our other big problem is still lack of attention from small business. Said ... "We big guys like to think the economy revolves around us, but the truth is the mom & pop's and little companies write more paychecks than we do."

Thought it was interesting, for the first time, he said perhaps we should have a neighborhood meeting about Y2K.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 11, 1999.

Reason #1: The brass is DGI or DWGI. -- or --

Reason #2: The brass is GI but if they made their employees GI, then employees might devote some of their attention and energy to thinking/doing something about Y2K on a personal basis. Causing company productivity to suffer. Some employees might even leave for higher ground before the company decides to lay them off.

-- A (A@AisA.com), April 11, 1999.

I can't answer for all companies, only for mine.

Just a bit of background first. I'm the Plant Manager for an electronics manufacturing company, with 70 employees in this location. Headquarters is located out of state, so as far as the employees are concerned, I am the only management person they normally see. HQ has been pretty much mute on the subject of y2k, with the exception of one vague piece in the company newsletter a month ago. I know our CIO pretty well, and I trust him. He tells me that he is confident that internally we will be ok, but he is not sure about our vendors, some of whom are overseas.

As far as my own beliefs about y2k, I am a middle-of-the-roader. I don't think it will be TEOTWAWKI, or a "bump", but somewhere in between. I personally am prepared with 6 months of food for my household, a solar system for lighting and small electronics, and I have always had a lot of camping gear (lanterns, stoves etc) for the basics. It was easy for me to justify the money I have spent on preps, since I live in hurricane country, and the $$ was not an issue for me. Money would be an issue if I had decided to go rural (a lifestyle that appeals to me) as I am not sure how I would make a living.

What do I tell the employees? You have no idea how much I have struggled with that question. The average wage for the production employees is $10.50 - a very good wage (with benefits) here in South Florida, but certaintly not enough for people to prepare to the extent that I have. I know that *most* of them live paycheck to paycheck, and any preparation they do will be a financial problem for them. Yes, I know you can do a lot without much money, but in a lot of cases, there just isn't any extra for these folks. If I tell them to prepare, and they overextend themselves, and it turns out to be little more then the bump, then I may have pushed some of them over the financial edge. And of course, they would blame me, and I would lose a lot of credibility. If I say nothing, and it turns out to be bad, some of them may really struggle to survive. That would be hard to live with, knowing that maybe I could have made a difference. I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. If I was convinced that it would be TEOTWAWKI it would be an easy decision, as it would if I thought it would just be a bump. Sometimes this middle ground really sucks.

I have had a couple employees ask me about y2k. I have told them that no one really knows what will happen, and they need to research it for themselves. I have pointed out that due to hurricanes, we need to be prepared for disruptions every year. And that this year it might not be a bad idea to hang on to them after the end of the season. However, I know damn well that most of the people here only get hurricane supplies at the last minute, as one is bearing down on us.

I know I could get flamed for both my middle ground stance, and my position with the employees. I truly wish the evidence was convincing one way or the other, but to me it's not. If anyone has any suggestions on how I could better handle this situation with the employees, I would apreciate it.

-- Online2Much (ready_for_y2k@mindspring.com), April 12, 1999.


That IS a problem. 'Don't know if this will help, but if you can just photo-copy what the Red Cross advises, and post it on bulletin boards around your facility, that may be of some benefit. Your employees still have time to do AT LEAST what's on that list.

-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), April 12, 1999.

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