September 28, 2022

What Would You Do If Your Firm Fired You Early In the Pandemic Then Begged You to Come Back Two Years Later?

Remember that immature jackass you dated in your youth who treated you like trash at every turn, and then when they finally got around to ending things, they did so in some spectacularly terrible way like banging your best friend or “accidentally” posting your private home movies on various XXX dot coms? Surely some of you reading this have someone matching this description in your past, and worse still, sometimes said jackasses hang on to your number and come crawling out of the woodwork months or even years later after they’ve spent some time trawling the dating pool only to discover that you were the best option out there. They conveniently forget the disrespect, the betrayal, and the many self-help books you would have to read to get over them so you could learn how to make better choices when it comes to romantic relationships. “Hey,” they’ll text. “I miss you.”

How do you respond?

Alright, so getting laid off from an accounting firm isn’t the same as finding your own bare ass on a porn site. But the concept is the same for the purposes of me fully conveying how disrespectful it is to fire someone then beg for them to come back. You weren’t good enough to justify the firm paying your salary when you were together, but now that things are desperate, here they are saying how much they’ve missed you despite having done you wrong.

We were tipped to this Reddit post claiming BDO did exactly that to OP (not the revenge porn part, the trying to hire them back part, obvs):

Fired me during pandemic saying “low performance” when I was at the firm for a couple of years and did great work. They cut peoples pay and said they wouldn’t fire anyone. They fired so many people in the admin side as well. I was in audit. Now there [sic] calling me to come back for more money? Should I even consider it? At another company and happy. The environment is super toxic there. Partners will put pressure on you to sign off on stuff even when support isn’t all there; you can pay them for your audit reports opinion basically.

It goes without saying the above is alleged because believe it or not people do sometimes lie on the internet and especially so on Reddit, but it’s worth discussing the hypothetical because we do know that firms are desperate for talent (true, not at all alleged) and that when that happens they start doing desperate things like reaching out to people who left years ago and are no doubt much happier now.

For the first half of 2020, we tracked COVID-related layoffs and pay cuts, and one thing we learned was that some firms were upfront about layoffs while others hid behind “performance” as an excuse for letting people go (looking at you, EY). Here’s the damage for BDO:

  • 5% to 10% pay cut for staff from May 1 until Aug. 1 (May 16 until Aug. 1 in St. Louis).
  • Raises and promotions deferred until Nov. 1 at the latest.
  • 3% of BDO USA Advisory workforce let go the week of July 13.
  • Pay cuts officially ended with employees’ Aug. 14 paychecks.
  • Employees to receive their pay that was cut from May 1 to Aug. 1 as of Dec. 15.

When Advisory cut 3% of the workforce in July 2020, we were told by a tipster that they were told the 3% were “low performers,” but the firm also mentioned “it was due to economic conditions.” Six of one, half a dozen of the other. By November of that year, BDO announced they hit $10 billion in global revenue for the first time ever, a 7.3% increase from 2019’s $9.6 billion. So yay, guess slicing that 3% and cutting everyone’s pay really paid off (pun intended).

And then The Great Resignation happened. Firms purposely maintain staffing levels that mean plenty of work for everyone and no one standing around twiddling their thumbs because borrowing from staff mental health to pay for higher revenue is pretty much the crux of the public accounting business model; they could staff enough people to somewhat mitigate 70-hour workweeks, they just don’t. But then everyone started leaving and firms were no longer the ones in control of these skeleton crews, they legitimately didn’t have the people they need to get the work done.

So that’s when the firms start going through their phones to see who they can hit up at 2 a.m. Just like the jackass in your past who isn’t getting Tinder matches because their profile sucks and prospective dates can smell the scumbag from 12 miles away. Or however far they have their Tinder proximity set to.

Don’t let firms that did you dirty booty call you when things get rough for them. They proved they have no problem letting you go at the first sign of trouble and will turn around six months later to tell the world they made more money than they ever have in history. What happens the next time the economy takes a dump (which it will) or there’s a gnarly Rona variant that sends everyone back inside or some guy decides to hump a pangolin and a zoonotic jump shuts the whole thing down again? Will the firm feel some sense of loyalty toward you because they did you wrong once before? NOPE. BYE. SORRY! It’s not you, it’s us!

Your entire career you’ve been told don’t burn bridges. Leave on good terms. Don’t write farewell emails accusing your managers of being petty sycophants with no regard for their underlings’ mental health. Don’t badmouth the firm even anonymously on some lame accounting blog (hey) because you never know when you might need a reference. Stay in line because a $120.6 billion a year industry of 1.28 million people is “small” and people will talk. Blah blah blah. Does anyone hold firms to these same standards? Like don’t cut people’s already cheap pay because some global phenomenon might reduce your record-breaking profits by a couple million? Or don’t fire people and call it a performance problem because you’re too cowardly to admit you are guarding revenue like Smaug atop a bed of checks from clients? What about those bridges?

F that. Have some self-respect. Just like you’d do with a sex pest in your DMs, block, delete, and move on with your life. Problem solved.
Photo by lalesh aldarwish from Pexels

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4 Comments

  1. Totally agree here. Last busy season, I got put on four clients and the firm ignored all staffing efforts because Partners hoarded staff for future engagements. I decided to leave without notice. Not a bridge I’d ever want to cross ever again.

  2. “They conveniently forget the disrespect, the betrayal, and the many self-help books you would have to read to get over them so you could learn how to make better choices when it comes to romantic relationships. “Hey,” they’ll text. “I miss you.””

    Jesus Adrienne….who hurt you?

  3. Couple things…

    1. I always find it amusing when someone refers to accounting people, or anyone in the business world really, as “talent”.

    2. When firms hide behind “performance” as an excuse, it’s usually preceded by the firm publicly announcing that they aren’t going to do layoffs during the coming storm because their talent is like family to them.

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