Who is wearing the red shirt?

HR Minion found this Star Trek poster, which looks like it’s from that famous de-motivational slides series.

Those old enough to remember Star Trek, or geeky enough to have watched the repeats, will remember that every episode, the crew were beamed down to some hostile planet. Among them would be one or two people you’d never seen before who were wearing red shirts. They were always the ones to get zapped by the aliens.


HR Minion gives some advice on how to avoid becoming a red shirt. Finding myself a niche and a peculiar but useful mix of skills always worked for me. Or, at least, I think it did. Then again, I might just have been lucky.

A couple of months ago, Chris Dillow reported that, despite the approaching recession, 87% of employees expected to keep their jobs. In other words, most of us think the red shirts are being worn by other people.

In the light of recent events, I tend to agree with Chris that the influence people have over whether or not they will be fired is marginal. The sheer scale of some recently announced job cuts means that anything individual employees can do will be about as effective as clinging to a tree in a tsunami. It might just work but most people will still get swept away.

Loyalty, skills and a record of good results, hard work and long hours will count for little. Thousands of people who thought they were Spoks, McCoys or even Kirks will soon discover that they have been wearing red shirts all along.

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4 Responses to Who is wearing the red shirt?

  1. HR Minion says:

    That’s a very good point. A lot of people don’t know they are red shirts and even if they are not, it’s not guarantee that they won’t die as well. Even Spock died. I guess I just want people to take more ownership over their careers, even if the economy is so sucky right now that a lot of it might be out of their hands at the moment.

    I’m all about the geekiness, you know.

  2. Robyn says:

    It doesn’t matter what the situation – landing on a hostile planet, navigating a rocky economy, or deciding to drive after a few drinks – no one ever thinks they’re wearing the red shirt until the phaser blast hits them. It’s just human nature, I guess. But what was Spock’s excuse?

  3. HR Minion says:

    Spock sacrificed himself in Star Trek 2 and “died”. He was the only one who could do it so it was purposeful. I guess that’s better than a surprise.

  4. Dan McCarthy says:

    Rick –
    Wow, that’s a pretty pessimistic outlook. For every 10 employees that lose their jobs, there’s a lot more that don’t. Loyalty, skills and a record of good results, hard work and long hours still matter, and always will. While it’s no guarantee, what’s the alternative – being disloyal, a record of screwing up, laziness, skipping out early and calling in sick?
    And I’ll bet you’ve been more than just lucky!

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