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IT employees at EmblemHealth fight to save jobs

Patrick Thibodeau | April 19, 2016
EmblemHealth IT employees fear their jobs are gone once they transfer their knowledge to Cognizant

EmblemHealth, a nonprofit firm, is facing financial difficulty, and the employees are aware of it. They are also aware of the trend to offshore outsourcing in their industry and others. But they also believe that they could update its legacy systems if given the chance.

The steps toward a shift to outsourcing have been going on for a considerable period of time, said employees.

In October, EmblemHealth changed its severance policies, the employees said. Now, if an employee is offered a position and doesn't take it, that employee will not get severance, the employees said. Employees who are laid off do receive severance. The changes are designed to all but force employees to take jobs with outsourcing firms.

Cognizant employees have been on-site gathering information. There have been preliminary meetings with employees.

The IT employees said it's been rough working at the firm but they have maintained their commitment and have strived to see it succeed. That includes working long hours with no bonuses or pay raises, and being on call around the clock.

"We worked and never missed a milestone," said the first IT worker. "We worked 80-hour weeks to get these things (systems) up."

One person who believes this type of organizational shift isn't healthy is Dr. Billie Blair, an organizational psychologist and author who heads Change Strategists, a consulting firm.

These offshore processes "are heart-wrenching; CFOs have definitely taken control of these companies and CFOs and their staffs function by numbers only -- they're not people people," said Blair.

"The mistake these companies make is that they have no hope their outsourced workers [will be] loyal, trustworthy kind of workers, as would a U.S citizen," Blair added.

Blair said corporations could do more to better the circumstances for both the employees and firm "but they are reticent about taking up the challenge."

For employees who go through the offshoring process, including knowledge transfer, "this kind of stress is very threatening to a person's well-being," said Blair.


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