* * *
The business I work in is...shrinking. Indirect competition from online services is siphoning off the advertising money my employer relies on, and while they're online, too, it doesn't monetize in the same way or on anywhere near the same scale as the traditional model that the entire industry was structured around. Less money means less people -- and in a business that ultimately runs on fast talk and BS, and which idolizes a kind of "robber baron" approach to management, it means yearly rounds of layoffs have become twice a year events, quarterly looms on the horizon and, like the smallest adults on the Russian troika pursued by wolves after the last child has been thrown out to appease the predators, my co-workers and I are all looking at one another and wondering not, "Who's next," but just, "I hope I get eaten last."
Meanwhile, the cars and suits of the men at the top get fancier, while the next level or two down of salaried managers work harder and harder to put a good face on it: they, too, merely hope to be eaten last. Their nice suits are getting a bit shiny at elbows and cuffs -- or have been replaced by casual wear -- and the clued-in managers and assistants who once had a place at the table are increasingly frozen out, seen as more liability than asset, especially if they have the temerity to point out where "bold, forward-looking vision" ignores a lack of workers and space for them to work in.
It's a rerun; twenty-five or thirty years ago, a different branch of the business hit a huge, unexpected snag (or set of snags) and shrank to fit the diminished resources (just as it had twenty-five years prior to that). It's still shrinking, after rounds of consolidation resulted in mountains of debt; the very largest players are not expected to survive the next two years intact, if at all.
* * *
The clock is ticking; it is no longer a matter of "if' but of "when."