back to article IBM could have made almost all the voluntary redundancies it needed

IBM UK could have almost filled its quota for voluntary redundancies in the Technical Services Support division given the number of folk that had put their hands up to leave, but will make some compulsory cuts instead. An Employee Consultation Committee was created for TSS staff last month, with 47 positions or roughly 10 per …

Around eight in 10 services staff will be based in these areas

Ha!1

And I STILL work with full time staff who have some kind of company loyalty. I really don't understand how people can still have any attachment to big company.

In fact, as a contractor, generally my role is far more secure than a full time member of staff.

And the fcukers wont outsource me over Christmas and tell me the 1st of January :)

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Paris Hilton

Re: Around eight in 10 services staff will be based in these areas

Are you sure that loyalty is a good thing?

"Is loyalty a moral virtue? Isn't hard-head commercialism, loyal only to the bottom line, the only rational approach in a results-driven environment? As much as loyalty is a virtue, is blind loyalty a vice? Is loyalty owed to moral principles and objectives rather than to people, who can lead us badly astray? In an era when friendships and relationships have been reduced to the click of a mouse or a swipe to the right, should we value loyalty more highly? And then of course, there's the issue of loyalty to your leader and your political party.."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08g7mjy

At least we can be sure that Radio 4 is a good thing. Right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Around eight in 10 services staff will be based in these areas

>And I STILL work with full time staff who have some kind of company loyalty. I really don't understand how people can still have any attachment to big company.

Suppose it depends on your definition of big but there some decent ones out there. I don't understand people who work for a bad company after say they are 40 or so. Speaks more to their bad judgement or poor life decisions than the quality of companies out there. Loyalty can be earned fairly easily for virtually anyone if the company is good enough. I was a malcontent or more than half my work life but my current outfit is so good I didn't bat an eye to come in at 10pm last night at the end of a vacation due to a production problem. Funny how that works when they dropped like 5K+ in bonuses to me just this quarter (not to mention years of other things they have done for me and my family). Basically if I can be loyal virtually anybody can be if they are patient and find the right company. Yes management can change but so can your employer if you keep your skills marketable.

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Re: Around eight in 10 services staff will be based in these areas

I don't understand people who work for a bad company after say they are 40 or so. Speaks more to their bad judgement or poor life decisions than the quality of companies out there.

Often people would have to move or take on a large commute, so there are a few things to bare in mind.

Kids?

Single parent?

A partner with a decent job in the area?

Age discrimination?

Decent pension at $CURRENTJOB compared to some crappy "money purchase" scheme at another place

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Around eight in 10 services staff will be based in these areas

Basically anybody that has been hired by IBM in the last 15 years and especially the 10 years should have known the company doesn't give a rat ass about its employees. Maybe some sympathy for those working for the company longer than that as those are the ones the company has went out of its way to screw over especially pension wise. Still if you are a recent hire/contractor who didn't have clear exit plan to get in make some dosh and get out then you my friend need to learn how to Google or simply read this web site more often. As for pensions best to not have to count on the management of company or even a government (ask Greece) for your comfort in retirement. The only thing that matters is money in accounts you control, anything unvested is taken as a grain of salt not something to count on.

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Trollface

Re: 5k in bonuses

Nice to know that your loyalty can be bought, and the ballpark figure it takes.

8o)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 5k in bonuses

Long story short not only about the money or benefits but being part of company that still manufactures stuff is just as important. If my work was only to invent derivatives to hide money from regulators/investors or to simply allow people to post pictures of their breakfast to the world I would need a whole lot more to be happy.

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Mushroom

The good people

have already left...

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Unhappy

Re: The good people

Always the way. Most evident in the land of the living dead, aka any government role.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The good people

I'm one of those who left, in my case two years ago. I can vouch for the fact that there are plenty of people who are still there who are very good. They stay for various reasons; there may be few other jobs locally and if you have built your nest, your kids are in school etc. it's not easy to just leave. With a lot of people they actually enjoy their job, despite the politics. I enjoyed mine and I worked for a group which was very profitable, but were part of the legacy organisation and IBM's business plan is to destroy its legacy, including the bits that make money, and replace it with some magic beans.

Of course, IBM could have saved a lot of time and money by just getting rid of everyone who volunteered the first time it all came around. I put my name down several times and was told I was too valuable - not valuable enough for any form of pay rise - but eventually they were left with only a few people like me who kept their hands up and I got my package. Yay.

Even with statutory minimum you're still better off out of there.

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Boffin

@Mpeler Re: The good people

Not all of the 'good' people have left.

IBM UK could have almost filled its quota for voluntary redundancies in the Technical Services Support division given the number of folk that had put their hands up to leave, but will make some compulsory cuts instead.

Translation:

Many of those willing to take voluntary redundancies had the skills that IBM wants/needs and could get jobs elsewhere. Its the staff which don't have marketable skills who didn't want to take the redundancy were the ones who they wanted to RIF. IBM wants to clear out the dead wood and doesn't want to lose skilled staff that they still need.

Not every customer will want to hire IBM because of the lesser skilled and lower paid offshore work. Here in the US, India is roughly 12 hours out of sync. So its their night when its our day. Want to discuss something? Its either a 5-7am call or its a 9-11pm call so there's a delay unless the staff enjoys working nights.

So its a downward and death spiral unless IBM can offer them something that they can't get from the offshore companies like Tata, etc ...

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Re: @Mpeler The good people

Want to discuss something? Its either a 5-7am call or its a 9-11pm call so there's a delay unless the staff enjoys working nights.

Once upon a time, it was the off-shore contractors who put in the night hours. I guess they now have the power to tell the customer (big corp) when they'll work, etc.

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Re: The good people

"I put my name down several times and was told I was too valuable - not valuable enough for any form of pay rise - but eventually they were left with only a few people like me who kept their hands up and I got my package. Yay."

Yes, it is the best people who aren't afraid to look around, who are versatile enough to adapt to new companies.

I'll add, in my experience many of the 'good people who stay' are generally people who have worked in one environment or with one architecture for so long they are afraid they cannot make a transition. They might have been versatile really good once, but now they are good at what they do and fear the need to learn something new.

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Re: The good people

Yup.

Not IBM, but one place I worked at had sucessive rounds of cutbacks, initially (and sucessfully) aimed at getting rid of multiple (redundant) layers of management whose primary function was to obstruct things being done, but then taken up on a "monkey see, monkey do" basis by people(+) who didn't understand that getting rid of your talented technical staff was a bad thing even if getting rid of people who were only pushing paper that was better shuffled by computer was a good thing, and so decided to make cutbacks at all levels.(*)

After it was clear to me that the deadwood(**) weren't going anywhere and most of the talented people had bailed out en masse at the last moment in the previous round I decided I didn't want to be stuck with a bunch of box-tickers and put my hand up. The company was getting wise to this and tried to block people it didn't want going but had a fight on its hands because the deadwood were also the bush lawyers and had no intention of going anywhere and the union took the voluntary part of "voluntary redundancies" seriously(***).

(*) The effects of the first couple of rounds of redundancies were to achieve massive speedups in getting things done. It wasn't unusual for customers to find that many orders were processed the same day instead of taking 3-4 months. After cutbacks in tech staff started happening, this started slipping back to several weeks or longer simply because of a lack of staff to do the job(****)

(**) ie: people who kept me employed going around fixing what they'd broken in addition to what they'd failed to fix in the first place.

(***) Yes, it did result in them having to hire some people back as consultants for 3-5 times what they'd previously been paid.

(****)vs the previous situation where delays were caused by the order being filled out in triplicate, sent to one end of the country for processing, sent to the other for filing, lost, found, lost again, left in a peat bog for three months and finally fed to a Ravenous Bugblatter beast of Traal before arriving on the desk of someone technical - who did the work the day they received the job and usually in less than 20 minutes.

(+) I use that term loosely, but calling them barely trained primates with MBAs and low comprehension or deductive skills would be unkind to lemurs. Seriously, I'm sure that many management consultants are there because they have big tits and/or are good at giving blowjobs and not for their ability to actually plan for the long-term benefit of the organisation they work for. I'm sure a flock of flying monkeys would fling less poo too.

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Re: @Mpeler The good people

Many of those willing to take voluntary redundancies had the skills that IBM wants/needs and could get jobs elsewhere.

If I was one of those whose voluntary redundancies they'd turned down, my response would be something along the lines of:

"Fine, if you don't want me to quit the moment all the involuntary redundancies have been processed you'd better give me an immediate 25% payrise."

(the point of waiting until after involuntary redundancies is so that my quitting couldn't be tagged as fulfilling their redundancy obligations)

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Coat

Re: The good people

You like(1) using footnotes, don't you?(2)

(1) By like I mean you use them often(*)

(2) It's not really a question, it's an observation phrased as a (rhetorical) question.

(*) By often I mean possibly excessively(**).

(**) Purely my personal opinion, maybe they are well used from a literary(***) perspective.

(***) Literary generally means in a essay, article or book form rather than a blog(****) post.

(****) I'm using blog very generically and am using it to include comments on news stories(*****).

(*****) This being el Reg, news story is being rather broadly defined.

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Terminator

And they'll have 2,000 roles to offshore in the next five years if El Reg's information about the Lloyds deal is correct.

Plenty more opportunities for VR, although I do hope they realise the terms that Lloyds and HBOS IT staff are likely to be on. 4 weeks for each year of service is typical for the financial services industry (although I have no direct examples for Lloyds / HBOS)

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"although I do hope they realise the terms that Lloyds and HBOS IT staff are likely to be on. 4 weeks for each year of service"

If there is immediate pruning to be done (middle management, IBM has plenty of that, and development teams, IBM will cost that activity as projects) it will be done before IBM take over. Then the staff at the coal face will train their replacements for the next two years, some will be sidelined so they just leave, or given PBC grade 4s so they can be sacked, then once TUPE protection ends, the vast majority will be severed with a statutory minimum settlement.

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Indeed that is the method they use

Whatever VR payments Lloyds use are down to them, all IBM have to do is provide Statutory minimum.

What irks IBM is when you come over with really nice holiday (30 days plus) and perks that are on your contract that they don't offer or some poor long term IBMer will have had to work for 20yrs + to get

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This whole topic brings up yesterday's "Could you ethically recommend a female go into IT".

No, I couldn't ethically recommend _anyone go into IT_, unless they live in some country with very low labour costs.

Which of us would recommend a young person go into a field where they are most likely (with a exceptions) to be working for cheap skate abusive employers who treat 'permanent staff' like contractors and lay them off at the first opportunity to shift the work offshore?

In 10 years most of the IT work left here in the first world is going to be administrator work, shifting machines, cabling, swapping boards, and other physical stuff that can't be offshored.

IT was good for me for the first 25 years, now it is rapidly becoming so not worth it. I as badly for the bright young optimistic newbies just getting out of college or university now as I do for those with 10 years experience who are being laid off because their specialty was product we've switched away from.

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Anonymous Coward

I am one of the good people who haven't left.

I've worked for the company for more than 15 years and in several divisions of it.

The main rule is this: stay away from the zero-margin business (outsourcing).

If you stay in the profitable areas you will have a steady job and decent pay.

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Anonymous Coward

Outsourcing is only zero margin if you spend all of the margin on your Directors, Senior Directors, Principal Directors, Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents and Corporate Vice Presidents. Plus their Administrative Assistants and Executive Assistants. Plus all your assorted Core Services Functions.

You know, the overhead.

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Anonymous Coward

Stay away from the unpoifitable stuff????

That didn't stop Compaq from closing down a small team that was exceeding its targets by a long way when it took over Dec. Their work model simply didn't fit in with building PC's. ergo, the PHB's from Compaq didn't have a clue what they did so they got rid. Still my Redundancy paid off the Mortgage.

The moral is that when the beancounters really need to cut costs no one is safe even those who make 200%+ of their budget by the end of Q2.

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Anonymous Coward

"I've worked for the company for more than 15 years and in several divisions of it."

We dumped a load of people on the scrapheap who had 15 - 25 years of service who worked in the most profitable part, simply because they were surplus to requirements this month.

Surplus until the multitude of P1's that rolled in one after another because the people that took over their roles fucked everything up.

Karma.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Still in the borg?

I left the borg almost 12 years ago.

It was the best move for me at the time.

I can tell you that IBM is shutting down profitable biz because they want to make the shift to the cloud and its a radical shift for them. IBM is a big ship and it doesn't turn on a dime. So they are willing to make sacrifices and write offs if they think it will impact their ability to change direction.

This came from some friends who are still at IBM and are in some very senior positions.

I took a package so I would have a hard time going back in. (And yes, they would love to have me if I was bored enough to want to play within the borg,)

Posted Anon because even with my alias, there are those within IBM who still know me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stay away from the unpoifitable stuff????

>The moral is that when the beancounters really need to cut costs no one is safe even those who make 200%+ of their budget by the end of Q2.

No that says more about why Compaq got eaten than about bean counters. Companies that reduce costs intelligently tend to be the ones that acquire others rather than get aquired and stripped (HP in this case though was even more clueless than Compaq which is why that deal makes so many M&A epic fail lists, lol not that HP doesn't have a few others on that list as well).

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"sales haven’t grown for 20 whole quarters and it is continuing to send more roles offshore to territories where it is cheaper to employ locals."

Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. But sometimes it does.

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First World Head Office only

With all the restructuring of the mega IT service companies detailed on these pages I'm wondering what the business model of these firms will become.

Maybe they will dwindle to the point that they are just brass plates in the countries they wan't to have clients in (i,e, banks and gov't); to maintain the fiction of our data being handled by our companies.

Also the leavers, they can't all be taking early retirement, so where are they going? Assuming they can't see a future in mega-corp, what areas are they tryig to move to, we should be told.

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Stop

Re: First World Head Office only

And then some CxO at the first world head office complains publicly about how America doesn't produce enough (cheap) tech workers, and says we need to expand the H1-B program to bring in (cheap) hardworking talent.

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The IT service industry is changing

The days of companies outsourcing all of their IT operations to a single company are over. Almost all new contracts are broken into pieces, and a company will submit RFPs for desktop services, helpdesk services, datacenter services, etc. Some will even break out individual towers so storage will be offered separately from Unix/Linux.

This shift has helped the mid market players who previously couldn't compete with the big dogs like IBM, HPE, and so forth for the really huge contracts. Now that they've been broken up into bite sized pieces, they can and do.

That's what is causing all the pain with the mega IT service companies you refer to, and why you see IBM shedding employees as fast as they can, HPE merging with CSC and so on.

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Re: First World Head Office only

First World Head Office only

Just that, it's the destination of the BPO and ITO shysters.

Because the directors don't intend to take offshore salaries themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The IT service industry is changing

Sorry to burst your bubble but massive outsourcing and offshoring of entire IT departments is still going on . Just look at the HPE cloud deal with DB which involved over 3000 people being tuped and also the Lloyd's deal with IBM which is reversing the individual towers and giving the lot to IBM with the exception of really critical support functions which can't be outsourced and off-shored. There are very few companies out there in the UK where this isn't going on especially with the move to the cloud which is outsourcing of infrastructure at the end of the day.

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IBM doesn't need to lose thousands of people -- just a few dozen

Start by getting rid of the BOD, move on to the C-Suite, and ditch anyone with "President" in their title. Walk down the halls and pick random IBM employees to fill the jobs. It isn't as if you are going to do worse than 5 years' of successive quarterly declining revenue.

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Re: IBM doesn't need to lose thousands of people -- just a few dozen

Or simply outsource the C suite.

I'm sure there are kids on Africa that would be willing to do the job for $1/day.

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Anonymous Coward

Never Volunteer

In the early '90s the company I worked for asked people to put their names down for voluntary redunancy.

Chatting to my old boss from a previous company about it and he suggested you should never volunteer as it indicates you are wishing to leave. Why would a company pay out a (generous) redundancy package when you will most likely leave anyway.

I got the brown envelope in the end, a lot of the volunteers didn't but most left within the next 6 - 12 months.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never Volunteer

Disagree entirely. If you volunteer you are only expressing interest, so they will make you an offer, which is essentially the same as everyone else's, but based on your years of service and salary. You do not have to accept that offer, and in my case, my immediate management didn't want me to, and didn't actually expect me to. They thought I was just throwing my toys out the pram.

After I was made my offer, which I accepted of course, they then started picking people for involuntary redundancy. They got statutory minimum.

However, as was mentioned by someone else in the comments section of a previous article, if all they're offering is statutory minimum anyway, as IBM are now doing, then there's no point in volunteering, unless you have another job already lined up or you just want to go off travelling or somthing.

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Re: Never Volunteer

IBM you get the same statutory minimum if you volunteer or not

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Re: Never Volunteer

Usually asking people to leave comes with a good severance offer, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months. So there is a reason to express interest.

Offering the statutory minimum 4 weeks in the UK (at best 2 weeks in the USA) is no motivation. As you say, an employer looking at an employee who offers to accept that, that they enjoy the job so little they'd leave it for next to nothing. The employee would be marking themselves off as someone dissatisfied who'd leave at the drop of a hat even if the other company was offering equivalent pay.

So yes, what you say makes sense. Don't show interest in the offer. Instead just quietly start looking for another job.

If you quit once you find another job you're guaranteed no gap in pay cheques.

If you take the 4 week severance package, yes maybe you get 4 weeks of double pay, but much more likely you'll have a several month gap.

That chance of double pay for 4 weeks is not worth the risk of a several month gap. Look around on your own and leave when you've found another job.

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Re: Never Volunteer

"If you volunteer you are only expressing interest, so they will make you an offer"

Indeed, I wanted the offer, whereas a colleague of mine fully expected to have her expression of interest go nowhere, only for it to be accepted. She accepted of course, it was a litmus test, but it highlighted some management BS that had been spouted, she'd worked really hard on her contract, living away from home and working from a customer site, as this was deemed essential, so thought they wouldn't see her as expendable. But they did.

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Employee Consultation Committee?

The Employee Consultation Committee (ECC) seemed like a good approach when it was created. It is now clear to me that it is not really a committee to consult with employees. I would have given this committee a different name based on what they have really been doing.

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Re: Employee Consultation Committee?

I once worked for a company with a Staff Association that was much like the ECC. Very good at organising staff jollies for the more loyal drones, but very quick to push you under the bus when you had a disagreement with management.

Been there, done that, got the tyre marks on the t-shirt.

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Re: Employee Consultation Committee?

Here is what they said when the ECC was created:

"In a letter to permanent employees in UK and Ireland, Paul Simmonds, director of TSS, part of Global Technology Services, confirmed the formation of yet another Employee Consultation Committee.

“The ECC will consist of both management and employee representatives. The purpose of the ECC will be to engage in employee consultation to discuss the proposals for the organisation to meet its business objectives,” he stated in the missive."

I can believe that the ECC consisted of both management and employee reps. I cannot believe the employee reps were anything more than tokens to make it sound like employees had input into what management had already decided they wanted to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Loyalty

There was a time when "loyalty" was a two way street. Staff could often be loyal to their company/council/service. And would do their best for the company. And the employers were often loyal in return, there would even be perks as a quid pro quo. But it changed.

The bean counters took charge and started to look at staff as just being economic units- input to be minimised and output to be maximised. But also the public started looking at other workers with envious eyes. Once if someone had a perk, or an easier job, people used to say "good luck to him/her". And if they could they might try to get the same. Then the tone seemed to change around. Instead of people saying "good luck to him" it seemed to become, "If I can't have it why should he?"* Instead of pulling each other up we dragged each other down. So the advantages of loyalty got tarnished. And those bean counters could rub their hands with glee.

*I knew of one place that had a limited number of parking spaces. People used to wait years to get one and would park nearby or get the bus till then, and were happy when their turn came up. Then one year ( I think in the 90s) it became different. It turned into people moaning "Why should they have a parking space if I can't?" And before you knew it there were only 4 or 5 spaces kept for the bosses and the rest were closed.

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Re: Loyalty

"The bean counters took charge and started to look at staff as just being economic units"

Yes, when that bright spark in HR picked the phrase 'human capital' to refer to a company's employees, I'm not sure that it wasn't a typo and they meant to use the word 'cattle' instead...

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Re: Loyalty

It was before that. What does HR stand for? Someone decided to call people "resources" and the rest was history. When they stopped working for "Personnel" and started working for HR, the die had already been cast.

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Mushroom

Re: Loyalty

The ones that makes me cringe are when they describe employees as "talent" and pay as "reward".

Nuke them from orbit, it's the only way to be sure ->

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Loyalty

Meanwhile, over at HPE, Mike Nefkens has started to refer to people as 'inventory'...

Thanks Mike, how to make people feel worthless by using one word.

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