Incentive Sharing Question
July 3, 2014 9:33 PM   Subscribe

The company I work for, referenced recently here, has announced a rather impromptu and puzzling proposal.

Since the announcement regarding reserving funds, the parent organization and our company have officially and contractually became legal partners (something I thought had already happened). For the last few days I have been stewing with resentment at the institution I work at, although I have no ill will towards any person.

Today at an informal meeting, which I did not attend the first part of because it was only mentioned that they were "buying lunch" so I had lunch out of office, it was announced that although the company hasn't been profitable for many months, that they were going to have us staff members meet as a team, excluding the old upper management, and decide which projects and products to move forward with. Old Upper management would have veto power or be able to add/change stuff as they felt necessary, but only after our list was created.

This smacked of a power move to me, as Old Ownership was in the room, and they did not look too happy.

Then, Weirder still, it was stated that the new partners/owners would fund this "exercise" with a very large sum of money, and that the staff (about 6 of us) would then share in whatever profits came about as a result of our collaboration. Sharing would exclude old ownership and new upper management also, but we would share this with whatever supporting departments we utilized from any dept. with the new owners/partners.

Given the large starting amount, It struck me as too good to be true, so I inquired if they were referring to a percentage or points on total profit, to which it was stated that it would be the entirety of the profit. I then asked if we were going to be offered this in writing. It was stated that if necessary, it would be placed in writing, but it (and the whole proposal, to be honest) seemed really off the cuff to me.

I mean, These are the same people who slashed salaries of a few people (thankfully not me) a few months ago, laid off two others, evicted some middle managers out of their offices and into cubes for "team building", and fight for every penny from our suppliers and vendors, not to mention the whole salary reserve thing.

So... I am confused. Thoroughly. Am I being paranoid and resentful? Or are the alarms going off in my head real? I am beginning to search other avenues of income, but I wouldn't want to miss out on this if it's real.

I know that no one can tell me what is truly going on in the heads of the people here, but has this or anything similar been done before that anyone is aware of? What would be the benefit to the new partners, especially with setting a potential mine-field of precedent? Are they crazy? Am I crazy?
posted by Debaser626 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You are not crazy. This sounds really, really weird to me. I would be looking for a new job.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:50 PM on July 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lately, I've heard of all sorts of scams with companies folding and reforming overnight, layoffs without honoring contracts because the "company" no longer exists on paper, funding shenanigans that seem like loopholes in the law (or flagrant disregard for the law altogether...)

Mentioning this trend in another recent thread got my comment deleted. Too bad, because in an update, that OP reported a situation similar to what some friends had been through recently with their companies....

I don't know the mechanics of it, but this seems to be A Thing right now in mid-sized companies in certain industries (media, internet, marketing & advertising) especially. Or so it seems from my perspective amongst my subset of friends.

Run run run.
posted by jbenben at 10:13 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

This sounds really bad to me.

I'd guess there is some relatively big pot of money at your company -- most likely a pension/retirement fund -- that the new owners can't get their hands on without machinations, and that these are the machinations.

I'd also guess that this and the company real estate are the reasons they bought you in the first place.

If there is such a fund, I think you should look around for a lawyer who specializes in defending them from looting, and also look into reporting what's going on to regulators and possibly the state attorney general.
posted by jamjam at 10:40 PM on July 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

It absolutely sounds to me (with my limited business knowledge) like some sort of scheme to make the employees part-owners, to get out of future liabilities or obligations.
I cannot second jamjam's comment hard enough.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:45 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not in writing = not real
Run while you still have maybe a good reference.
It's always easier to find a job when you have a job.

A similar situation happened to me in the heady days of the dot com bubble.
The company made this weird pitch about options to buy as rewards for work. No specified value, not in writing and they could give them out to whomever they felt like.
I found another company soon after that.
A month after I left the staff where all locked out. I already had a new job and didn't have to compete with the huge wave of talented hungry people.
posted by Ignorance at 2:08 AM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not in writing = not real

Everything you need to know about business in five words.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:50 AM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

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