Stanley Bing

Are you going to keep your job this year?

February 6, 2013: 5:00 AM ET

A scientific calculation of a critical personal metric.

By Stanley Bing


FORTUNE – Now that we're through the lethal Christmas Firing Season, when corporations celebrate what should be the happiest time of the year by heaving people from the balustrades, it may be a good time to assess our chances of making it through all four quarters of the current calendar year. I believe I've stumbled upon a powerful mathematical tool that will take the subject out of the speculative zone. I humbly present an equation to calculate your likelihood of survival:

E = mc2

In plain English, this means that your exposure to danger, E, is a function of certain factors we will examine in a moment, m, multiplied by the amount of money senior management is spending on consultants, c2. Let's look at m first, since it's the key measurement in our calculation.

The condition of the economy (15%): Right now there is a stirring of optimism beneath the impacted soil of negativity that the long economic winter has left us. People want growth and are even beginning to plan for it. This tender green shoot could be killed, however, by any cold wind that comes along. In this environment, we may expect this number to be low, but not nugatory.

The state of your industry and the confidence your senior management has in it (20%): Some companies are run by people who believe in their business. Others are not. If your management believes your company can grow, you can keep this number down. Employees of the "we are doomed" school of management, not so much.

Your tenure and cost to the organization (30%): How much money could the company save if it hoisted you by your expensive petard? Gulp twice if that question makes you nervous.

empoyee_job_retention_metrics_chartYour fungibility (20%): Of course you're good at what you do, and that counts in your favor. But if tough decisions had to be made, would you be easy to replace with another cog in the machine? Could your duties be handed to somebody else, and the whale continue to cut through the water without coughing? If so, this number will be high for you, because you are fungible. On the bright side, you can decrease this liability, either by carving out new turf for yourself or by killing the people who could do what you do.

Your crony factor (10%): Do you play quoits with Mr. Roover? Run in the morning with the finance team? Get plastered after work with Bob? All that stuff counts, you know. It's not dispositive. But it counts.

Are you loved? (5%): It's a small part of the equation, but it's been known to save more than one life.

This brings us to c, the quantity, when squared, that puts all employees at risk. It may be ascertained in your corporation by estimating the amount of money senior management is spending on consultants. That is the number they have to justify. Get that number and you have the constant.

Execute the calculation now that you have all the components. If the result is more than 50 times the cost of consultancy, dust off your résumé.

Oh, there's one other thing. If you are already underpaid, overworked, overwrought, exploited, underappreciated, and routinely the last guy to leave at the end of the day, make your m a zero. And zero times anything still comes out zero, no matter how many consultants are rummaging about with their whiteboards.

This story is from the February 4, 2013 issue of Fortune.

Follow Stanley Bing at and on Twitter at @thebingblog.

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