Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 entry no. 1 of I'm Thankful For...

The debut of a mini-series of planned blog entries...

Over the next few days, I'm going to blog about a few things for which I'm extremely thankful. They are not intended to be in sequential or priority order. I'll just blog about them as they come to me.

Entry No. 1 - My employer

The last couple of years has been pretty tough for many companies and consequently their employees looking to continue their careers and employment.

The company I've worked for the last 13 years has fared better than many. Yet, we have not been on an island completely away from all the economic mess. About a year ago, many of my co-workers - both in my office and in our operations areas across the company - were laid off in response to economic situations present then and expected to occur in 2009-2011. Furthermore, salaries were not increased in 2009 for those who continued.

I was not laid-off in late 2008 and remain at work today largely in the same role. Even without a salary increase, I am paid a competitive salary allowing my family and me to give, save, and live a comfortable lifestyle.

Also, our annual benefits selection window opened last week, and once again we still have a pretty good selection amongst health and dental plans, discounted term life insurance, retirement, and pre-tax flex spending plans. The company also encourages us to spend time where we can supporting charitable organizations in our community. As a result, I can allocate part of my time each year working with Boy Scouts and Room in the Inn, a fantastic Nashville-based organization providing assistance to the homeless.

A good bit of travel is required as part of my job. Travel gets old a bit at times with airline delays, yet another hotel stay at the same quality yet predictable chain, and a handful of missed kids' events. But its also a lot of fun. I've been afforded the opportunity to visit a dozens of cities I would likely otherwise not have visited. These opportunities have allowed me to experience many great cities (and a couple of regrettable ones), meet a lot of great people, build new friendships, dine and drink at some first class restaurants and low rent dives, and accumulate frequent flier credits to travel outside of work with family. And with the lion's share of the costs being reimbursable company expenses, that makes the visits even better for a cheapskate like me.

Lastly and most important, I've extremely thankful to work with a team of extremely skilled co-workers. Some of these folks are on my immediate team. Some are in other functional groups within our department. Some of them blog (ahem...cough...ozzynelson, squireponderings, loisandjon, the wandering raccoon). Most of them don't. The people I enjoy working with the most are (1) those who make me laugh and (2) those who help me challenge what, how, and why we're doing. (Bonus points are also available to those who also dig NASCAR, have music tastes similar to mine, watch The Office, and don't use hair gel or styling mousse).

The group with whom I work most directly is given an lot of latitude about what things we should be doing, how we do them, and who should be hired to do them. We spend a lot of effort on that last item - finding the right folks. Without my talented co-workers, I'd have neither the enjoyment of work nor the comfort of on-going employment with this company.