Sunday, August 14, 2011

Talk of Doom & Gloom in the Workplace Upsets Co-worker

I have a co-worker who I will call Mr. Doom who does not handle negative economic news well. At the first sign of a stock market downturn or talk of a recession, he begins spreading rumors that the company is going under; we are all going to lose our jobs and end up living in a van down by the river. In the past, his negative talk has been so disruptive he received a warning from HR.

Needless to say, Mr. Doom did not handle this week’s stock market roller-coaster ride well. Beginning on Monday he began making his usual rounds spreading doom and gloom to co-workers. I don’t really listen to these ramblings or take his projections seriously, so I was surprised when Deb an employee from another department approached me saying Mr. Doom was upsetting her so much she never wanted him to talk to her about the economy again.

I told her not to listen to him he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I then quoted Clark Howard telling her Clark believed in capitalism, that our capitalist system was going to prevail and that government just needed to get its act together. By the look on her face my statements did not help at all.

Mr. Doom moved all his money to a dividend producing fund called BGY and told me and others we should do so as well. As the week progressed he followed me around giving me updates on how much money he had made and I had most likely lost. Finally in exasperation I told him to stop checking the market; there was nothing any of us could do about what is happening anyway. Then hearing my phone ring I told him we should all get back to work.

Later Deb approached me saying she had overheard my conversation with Mr. Doom and how much she had enjoyed it. I told her we should all stop panicking and concentrate on the positive aspects of the economy. I had just read Kent’s post Reality Check: Average Market Corrections and pointed out some of the positive items he listed in his post:
• The debt ceiling crisis has passed.
• 75% of companies beat earnings estimates.
• Oil is back under $90.
• Car sales are up 5.8% year over year.
I then told her our company had had positive year-to-date earnings at the end of June for the first time in three years, we had a positive July, and early August projections looked good. Also, that our company’s owners foresee good things happening for the remainder of the year and are not worried about what the market is doing.

She seemed satisfied and I realized that was what she was looking for. She needed to hear the company was okay and to be reassured her job was going to be safe.

As to Mr. Doom, he panicked and pulled all his money out of BGY Thursday morning. He was off on Friday, so I don’t have a final update, but I’m sure this move was a mistake. According to stock market results the Dow ended the week just 1.5 percent lower than it had started.

Do your co-workers panic during economic upheaval? What does your company do if anything to squelch their fears and keep employees focused on their work?


  1. An excellent post, Savvy! The number one rule of the market is: if you cannot stand some volatility... don't get into the market. And rule #2 is: if you cannot take a LONG view, get out of the market. Mr. Doom was doing no one - least of all himself - any good.

    You are correct tho, that most employees really want to know about "our" company, and not really the market. You did a good thing.

  2. Yes we have those too. Every time gas goes up (which it does every year in the summer) it's the end of the world. And of course then it goes down again. Funny but they never seem to talk about that part. Great site, just stopping by from LBS.