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Businesses Technology

The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees 271

An anonymous reader writes: VentureBeat is running an indictment of the tech industry's penchant for laying off huge numbers of people, which they say is responsible for creating a culture of "disposable employees." According to recent reports, layoffs in the tech sector reached over 100,000 last year, the highest total since 2009. Of course, there are always reasons for layoffs: "Companies buy other companies and need to rationalize headcount. And there's all that disruption. Big companies, in particular, are seeing their business models challenged by startups, so they need to shed employees with skills they no longer need, and hire people with the right skills."

But the article argues that this is often just a smokescreen. "The notion here is that somehow these companies are backed into a corner, with no other option than to fire people. And that's just not true. These companies are making a choice. They're deciding that it's faster and cheaper to chuck people overboard and find new ones than it is to retrain them. The economics of cutting rather than training may seem simple, but it's a more complex calculation than most people believe. ... Many of these companies are churning through employees, laying off hundreds on one hand, while trying to hire hundreds more."
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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

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  • by SirGeek ( 120712 ) <sirgeek-slashdot@mrsuck o . o rg> on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:29PM (#48866509) Homepage
    Hire a new FTE programmer/H1B programmer for 50% of the fired employee's salary = 50% savings.
    • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:34PM (#48866565)

      Hire another local programmer at 110% of the fired employee's salary to fix the cheap H1B programmer's code = 60% loss.

      • by Yakasha ( 42321 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:41PM (#48866615) Homepage

        Hire another local programmer at 110% of the fired employee's salary to fix the cheap H1B programmer's code = 60% loss.

        Hire 2 new FTE programmer/H1B programmers for 50% of the 2nd local programmer's salary = another 50% savings = 100% savings!

        Where is my honorary MBA?!

      • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:41PM (#48866617)

        That 60% loss is not in this quarter. So the hiring manager has already received his bonus based on the 50% savings.

        • If performance is a factor in his bonus, his next bonus will suffer resulting in him not benefiting in addition to possibly being on the hook for the screwup. He could later be considered for termination if the pattern continues.

          • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:48PM (#48866695)

            nope he has already been promoted/layoff and no longer is required to justify his mistakes. we live quarterly reports by quarterly reports.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mrbester ( 200927 )

            No, he'll get promoted before that happens due to the savings. Then it's the fault of the next guy who had nothing to do with it, but fuck him, right?

          • by olsmeister ( 1488789 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:55PM (#48866777)
            He puts on his resume that he saved the company 50% and leaves for a new job before the chickens come home to roost.
          • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:33PM (#48867171) Journal

            his next bonus will suffer resulting in him not benefiting

            Unless his next quarter is a negative bonus where he has to pay his ill-gotten gains back, he gets $10000 for hitting this quarter's target and gets only $1000 next quarter. As opposed to only getting $1000 both quarters. The behavior is a no-brainer.

            He could later be considered for termination if the pattern continues.

            Unless he's high enough up AND his behavior drives the company into bankruptcy, then the gets a $50000 retention bonus to help ensure his leadership through these tough times.

        • Don't forget to rotate the hiring manager to another department so when the problems to the program finally hit it won't impact his yearly assessment.

      • That's a myth (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Hire another local programmer at 110% of the fired employee's salary to fix the cheap H1B programmer's code = 60% loss.

        No. If they DO have to hire a local person ( non-H1-b), they are able to get them at 90% of what they originally paid him.

        See, the offshoring and H1-B has been putting DOWNWARD pressure on salaries.

        Salaries here where I live haven't moved in 15 years - and that's not including inflation.

        Sorry, but there is no real downside for a company to hire offshore or H1-B labor - only an upside.

    • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
      Not when you take all the costs into consideration.
      • The first rule of business economics club is never talking about business economics club.

        The second rule of business economics club is that you never take all costs into consideration. As much as possible, make those someone else's problem: your minions', your successor's, another division's, the great big greater economy, the ecology, whatever. But keep all the success/credit/profit for yourself.

        Then cash out and find another place to pillage.

        Yes, business economics club is kind of like piracy, but more bo

    • by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @04:07PM (#48868359)

      As a former H1-B visa holder, current lawful permanent resident, and eligible for U.S. citizenship, you should know that the LAW requirs H1-Bs to be paid at least 90% of the prevailing wage, the employer to handle their INS legal expenses, AND bear the cost of sending them and their family home when they are layed off or their visa expires. H1-Bs generally cost MORE than locals, with all the extra hassles.

      Now, where I would likely agree with you is that many companies BREAK those laws to bring in cheap labor, something which I would opose as well.

      • by triffid_98 ( 899609 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @08:46PM (#48871125)
        As a former H1-B visa holder you should also be well aware that the 'prevailing wage' is subject to substantial interpretation and visa holders are essentially locked in to that company.

        They can't leave unless it's to go back home. In the case of some countries it's just a few years, but if you're from someplace like India you'll probably be there a decade or more before you ever get a green card.

        I've worked at a number of smaller companies, and (at least in that environment) this whole yearly wage increase thing simply doesn't happen. If you want a substantial raise, it means accepting an opportunity somewhere else. Something an H1-B holder cannot do, so it's no wonder that they're preferred. I wouldn't exactly call you slaves, you're really more like indentured servants.
    • Payroll? that's last century. Uber sets the mark toward which corporations aim at ' robotics'.

      Hardware, software and artificial wetware replace employees entirely with driverless transport, space exploration, customer service, drones, electronic trading, etcâ¦

      You have been replaced.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:30PM (#48866529)

    As someone who is "surplussed" and "losing" my job in March, it's the norm (3rd time in less than a decade.. Buyouts, contract losses, etc). Just don't complain when your newly hired $150k/year wunderkind jumps ship 3 months later for someone offering more. You've created a "fuck you, I've got mine" bed, and we're all laying around in it.

    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:54PM (#48866765)

      Sadly there is a double standard. If you have only been at your last couple jobs a couple years you get a lot of inquiry and scrutiny to justify yourself. Companies seem oblivious to the fact that they get rid of folks like tissue paper, while demanding the new employee act like they want to join for life.

      The truly awful part of the shift mentality to "we are all temporary employees" is that it has infected companies well outside tech hubs. In Silicon Valley it is pretty easy to leave one collapsed startup and find something else to pay the bills, or for companies to scoop up extra people as you expand. Cost of living, as well as cost of hiring are a bit insane, but it allows workers lots of backup options, and companies a near sure fire way to expand simply by throwing money at the problem.

      Tech companies elsewhere have joined the crowd in using layoffs as a way to cut the training budget and goose the stock price at will, but the laid off workers often find they are in a desert of opportunity leading to very long stretches of unemployment. Likewise, those left inside the company cannot often get enough decent local talent on the next up swing, making rehiring and rebuilding a group a long and painful process, only to have it all undone the next time there is a bad quarter.

      • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:09PM (#48866923)

        new employee act like they want to join for life.

        The key word here is act, because as far as I know, nobody joins a company for life anymore, unless he's in civil service. Not the lowliest contracted janitor, right up to the (contracted) CEO.

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @05:02PM (#48868983)

          nobody joins a company for life anymore

          They never did. Average job tenure today is actually higher than in the past. "Lifetime employment" is mostly a myth that never happened for most people.

          • by vipw ( 228 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @06:47PM (#48870215)

            I saw the BLS stats, but i don't think you're right. The median tenure of the workforce is increasing. The length of tenure is highly related to age, and the workforce is aging.

            What you really need to see is if the tenure time is actually increasing across age bands and not just for the overall workforce. Here's a somewhat dated analysis (compare figure 1 and figure 2): http://www.frbsf.org/economic-... [frbsf.org]

            You can see the overall tenure is increasing, but the tenure of each age subgroups are actually declining. It's just the change of the population in the subgroups has dominated the results. This is called Simpson's Paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

            So the truth is that for any given age, job tenure was higher in the past. As they say, "lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    • Absolutely true. And it started in the nineties when companies were doing massive layoff and when companies like IBM who had never done such a thing before (six Thomas Watson's principles) started to revisit the principles which were the base of the contract between the company and its employees.

      Loyality is a two-way thing. Why should an employee be loyal to his employer if the employer isn't loyal to his employee?

      Given that, wouldn't there an employees skills recycling fund created and maintained by specif

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:48PM (#48867317) Homepage

        To some degree, this is handled by unemployment insurance premiums.

        Most unemployment offices, in addition to the direct unemployment benefits, have retraining programs that often last well beyond when the direct benefits expire.

        For example, I started my masters' degree part-time when I was still working at my first job. 4 weeks later i got laid off.

        I got the standard unemployment benefits (26 weeks I think???) but when those ran out, I was still eligible for New Jersey's tuition waiver program (free tuition at a state school with some limitations - you're last in priority when classes fill up pretty much but that wasn't a problem in an EE graduate program) for the entire remaining duration of my M.S. program.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most tech companies are not operated as going concerns and thus have no HR policies beyond hiring and firing.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:37PM (#48866589)
    In many or probably most cases, the companies doing the layoffs are simply cutting headcount as a fast way to get a short term improvement in the company's bottom line and thus cause the stock price to go up or at least stay where it is. Cisco and IBM are both notorious for playing this game. IBM simply moves the job to a cheaper foreign country where they have an office and Cisco just hires new H1-B visa workers at a much lower price than the American citizens they laid off.
    • by rnturn ( 11092 )

      ``IBM simply moves the job to a cheaper foreign country where they have an office...''

      Indeed. I recall reading a story about IBMers being told that the internal posting for a job was not intended for U.S.-based employees. Recent news tells us that IBM is laying off N people but hiring the same number. So it's all good, of course. Wanna bet on how many of those new hires are going to be based in the U.S.?

  • by barfy ( 256323 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:38PM (#48866595)

    When you hire tons of people especially quickly, you're going to have a lower mean of high quality people. Churn can be as stated, but also a common part of the industry, is to find a way of increasing the quality of your employees. Fire the worst, replace them with better. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes its about a body, any body, to move the ball forward. Then it's about getting better and better people. It's not just about training, it is still largely a talent based industry, where the majority of the progress is made by a minority of the people.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      it is still largely a talent based industry, where the majority of the progress is made by a minority of the people.

      No, it's a suck-up based industry, where the majority of the progress is made by those who know the right people, speak the right buzzwords, or went to the school that prepares you for the silliest interviews. I've got way further than I deserve on technical merit because - as Cartman would put it - I respect authority.

      The same can be said of pretty much any industry which isn't well regulated or well unionised (there are bad regulations, e.g. the regulatory capture of accounting exams, and bad unions, whic

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        The same can be said of pretty much any industry which isn't well regulated or well unionised

        The same can be said of well regulated or well unionized industries.

    • ... it is still largely a talent based industry...

      Of course, you are aware that the concept of "talent" is utter bullshit, right?

      Yes, people have differences in "natural ability" but that accounts for less than 1% of the variability in performance. The vast majority of differences in performance are accounted for by practice, training and experience.

  • Let me see if I understand this author's thesis. back in 2005, Adobe changed direction and needed different people, with a different type of education and experience. From this, they draw the conclusion that ten years the entire tech industry is made up of "disposable employees". I didn't work at Adobe in 2005, so I don't know the details of that reorganization. I do know that in all of the companies I've worked at, most people leave when they choose to pursue an opportunity elsewhere - the employee lea

    • He mentioned seeing it in many companies, Adobe was only one example. Churn all over the place.

      Then they have to enter into collusion deals with other companies to keep the employees that they do want, since such a culture breeds NO company loyalty, encouraging an employee to jump ship the moment they see a better prospect.

  • Welcome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:40PM (#48866607)

    to greedy, laissez-faire, unregulated, globalized, secret-trade-agreement-favoring, trickle-down, uncaring, 1% favoring capitalism.

    Republicans out there -- you voted for it, you got it. As they like to say, "To hell with you, Jack, I'm all right."

  • Sure, there are large layoffs in the tech industry, but big layoffs are not a new thing.

    Two of the largest layoffs in US history occurred in 1993. 60K employees at IBM and 50K employees at Sears/KMart.

    Big layoffs are a result of other business conditions, including.

    An actual need to cut expenses -- bloated, slow-moving companies find themselves in the condition of declining sales, and big losses.

    A desire to increase profit margins, often linked to increased stock prices -- CEO's can get lots of bonus compen

    • The problem is the laid off employees were not those with the missing skills for the future, at least in the IBM case into the nineties. They offered the leave package to those which were to cost them less. Then, the employees near retirement and the latest hired employees were the target for this massive layoff. I was having skills highly demanded in the workplace at this time and I took the leave package given the low moral index at IBM at this time it was no longer a place you enjoy working and you could
  • Free Market (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is just the free market in action, treating employees as any other resource: fungible, consumable, disposable, replaceable.

    I've spent my career in high tech and enjoy it, but I don't recommend it as a career path to anybody I know.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:46PM (#48866671)
    Many of these companies start out as small startup companies, and the corporate culture is just an extension of college culture. People come and go as they enroll and graduate. Many of them have no experience in a true business culture. The see the overhead as an unnecessary expense, not a necessity for the future. No one know how to train someone for the future. A lot of people coming out of college like this atmosphere. They dread the bureaucracy that comes with standardizing processes and developing employees. Few are aware of the need to transition to a more long term business structure.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:52PM (#48866745) Journal

    One thing I've really noticed in the last decade or so is the massive amount of consolidation, mergers, acquisitions, etc.
    Every time I turn around, it seems like some company is being bought out by another one. And with so many opting to recycle old company brand names, it's difficult to tell sometimes just who really makes a product or provides a service.

    (We've all heard of Polaroid, RCA and Westinghouse -- but they're not the companies they used to be.)

    Quite often when these mergers or acquisitions happen, the company originating the process really only wants to add the other business's patent portfolio, or its proprietary product -- not its labor pool. The employees typically come along for the ride, initially though -- with some kind of (often underhanded) plan to eliminate them over time. Perhaps it would be better for everyone involved if they were up front and honest about such plans, except the truth is? If they were, people would start throwing fits and revolting against these buyouts and mergers instead of viewing them as "just part of doing business".

    (EG. If you want to own a technology that a competitor created, it's easy to pay off the head of the company who owns the rights to it and let them "resign". Everyone assumes it's because that individual is simply angry that he/she lost so much control over the original business plan and is going to walk away on principle. In reality? He/she just sold out and threw their staff under the bus.)

    In the end though -- hey, it's the modern way business is done. They're worried about maximum efficiency, which means having a labor pool that costs the company the minimum in training costs, salaries, etc. while doing as much useful work as possible. Loyalty is pretty much out the window because keeping people around, just because they've "been with us a long time" turns out to be less efficient than hiring fresh people who are motivated to "prove themselves".

    • LOL, the last company I worked for Laid off the IT staff in a "Re-org" They had just announced how they had made 3 Billion euros in the last year and the President of the company took a multimillion Dollar bonus! However, no raises as there was "no budget" for it, then they laid off all the IT staff, to cut costs. Turns out they out sourced it to a firm in India that thoroughly failed at managing the systems.

      9 months later, they run ad's looking for IT people. They were having trouble finding people because

  • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:55PM (#48866781)

    ....disposable employers.

    When the market is doing well, which is almost all the time since I been in IT in my area, it's not hard to find jobs. So if somebody comes along and offers me more money, equal hours (or better) and equal or better working conditions, well let's just say I have a macro'ed resignation word doc that fills in date and employer name. Why? Because I know if the tables where turned, they would not hesitate to put my head on the chopping block.

    Loyalty is for suckers.....

    Do I like it this way? No, but this is the world we live in.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by perlface ( 1776706 )
      Roger this. At my first start-up job years ago -- the grey beard VP of Engineering gave me that advice. We were discussing a pending merger and if I wanted to stay on. I mumbled something about wanting to be loyal to the company -- he cut me off and dropped the wisdom -- never be loyal to a company because they will never be loyal to you. I have learned it is important to be loyal and honest with people/friends. Companies can f-themselves.
      • by dablow ( 3670865 )

        You are 100% correct.

        There are some former bosses I am friends with, hell we sometimes take trips to Vegas together, but I quit working for him not because of him. The Company.

        A corporation, as much as lawmakers and conservatives want you to believe, is not a human being. It is a machine. A money making machine. It does not value things like loyalty, mostly because it is not easy to quantify and put on a balance sheet.

    • Exactly. I'd love to see a name and shame thing too - so we have a list of companies that tend to layoff and hire people. Those are the kinds of companies you either try not to work for, or if you need the job, prepare to quit without any notice.
      • Giving notice seems to be dead anyway, but I do think it is nice to do so for companies that treat their workers with respect.
      • We had one once. I haven't been to it in years, so I dropped by fuckedcompany.com and got this...

        Fuckedcompany is... fucked.
        R.I.P. 2000-2007. If you're just now seeing this website for the first time,
        ask someone who was in the internet business during "round 1" to tell you all about it.

      • http://www.glassdoor.com/ [glassdoor.com]

        Use it to screen companies before an interview. It is always fun when they ask "Do you have any questions for us?" and you pull comments from glassdoor and ask if they have corrected the issue. ;)

  • It's the metrics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mariox19 ( 632969 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @01:58PM (#48866799)

    Big business is in thrall to the MBA's and their "scientific" management. If something can be measured, it's legit; if something can't be, it isn't. The thing is though is that, at any point in time and given any development in statistical research methods, some things are going to be more easily measured than others. If you have a business culture that believes you're clear-eyed and sensible when looking at numbers, but wishy-washy and "unscientific" when going by experience and gut feelings -- and, even worse, if you have a similar investor culture financing the whole thing -- you will run into trouble.

    It's the numbers guys firing people with experience (and the judgment that comes with it), and replacing them with spanking brand new rock stars, or foreigners with well-crafted resumes. Add up the columns, contact human resources, collect your bonus check. If it all goes wrong several years down the road, you'll be working somewhere else anyway. That's the business model we're all suffering under.

  • Tough problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:05PM (#48866879)

    This is a very current problem. The tech press is talking about IBM's announcements/rumors about yet another huge restructuring. Not so long ago, IBM was one of the most stable places in the world to be employed at outside of government and academia. There was an implicit contract that employees who contributed and worked within the framework of the company would be taken care of for an entire career. I think that needs to come back for those who desire it, not necessarily for socioeconomic reasons, but for workforce improvement reasons. This move to contractors and outsourcing for everything is just idiotic MBA management consultants looking at a spreadsheet and seeing a way to shift costs. The long term problem is that loyalty works both ways, and employees who are treated as disposable will treat their employers the same way.

    I know that large organizations generate forests of dead wood as well, and that there comes a time when some of it needs to be cleaned. However, an enlightened company in my mind would be better served retraining that dead wood worker for something else. You get someone who knows the organization's culture and politics, and the institutional knowledge of how their previous job was done doesn't walk out the door.

    I know I'm not in the majority on /., but I would love the ability to stay with the same employer for an extended time, without the worry of suddenly losing my job and immediately being branded with The Scarlet Letter U (unemployed) that prevents me from being hired ever again. I actively seek out employers who treat their employees well in exchange for long service -- and they're harder and harder to find. The reality is that the industry is rough - the 25 year old single coder/systems guy is preferred over the experienced person who's done the latest rehashed tech fad over and over again. Anyone with a family would be pretty foolish to go the contractor route - it's hard to explain to the family that you can't pay the bills this month because a customer didn't pay you or there's no work to be had. There's a difference between someone like me, who would put in extra effort in exchange for more security, and someone who just wants job security because they're lazy. I've worked with plenty of those types over my career as well -- they set themselves up as the single point of failure in a system or hold all the knowledge on a particular process just because they're scared someone will come and lay them off. You would get less of this if large companies didn't routinely say "we're cutting 30,000 workers" the way HP just did.

    The problem for me with contracting isn't the constant learning - I like that. It's the bouncing around, never knowing where you'll be in 6 months, and never getting to finish anything you start.

    In a perfect world, my solution would be twofold:
    - Admit that there is going to be huge structural unemployment in the future, and enact European style unemployment insurance and worker protections.
    - Take the design/engineering aspects of IT or SW development, draw a clear line between the engineering and the tech tasks, and merge it into the licensed professional engineer track. A professional organization would get a lot more support than the unions that techies irrationally fear. In addition, having a clear career ladder starting out as an entry level tech, spending the time necessary to make mistakes, then graduating to a status that requires you to be responsible for what you build/design is a good thing.

    • by dablow ( 3670865 )

      Security, has always been and will always will be, an illusion in the work force.

      It's a scam they sell you to get you to stay in underpaying, overworked jobs.

      Like in every other aspect of life, the more risk you take, the higher the potential rewards. No risk = no rewards.

      Do you think a company who is in the red this quarter will be like "Hmmmm we did bad this quarter, we lost money but so did everybody else. Let me just pay my employees and reassure them, so what the execs won't get a massive bonus this ye

    • " Admit that there is going to be huge structural unemployment in the future, and enact European style unemployment insurance and worker protections"

      Or, you could pretend that the $100k you're earning this year is actually $50k, because you are unemployed half the time and plan to live off of $50/year instead of the feast/famine model.

  • by Dimwit ( 36756 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:07PM (#48866889)

    This sounds a little insensitive, but, don't be disposable. You're a Windows admin. Great. So are a million other people. If you're a Windows admin who also knows some programming, there are maybe 250,000 people with your skill set. If you add in that you know some Linux, maybe 100,000 people.

    What I'm saying is, if you want to be safer than the average employee, don't be average. Enhance your skill set.

    • What you are suggesting is that a generalist will be kept while a specialist is disposable.

      Simple question, when the MBA/management person is looking at the spread sheet with all the numbers on it trying to decide which people should be laid off, which filed is the one that indicates your skill set?

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @03:06PM (#48867537) Journal

      Dear Dimit:

      Thank you for taking the time to apply to our job. Unfortunately we are not able to extend an offer of employment to you as we feel you are overqualified for this position. Thank you for your interest.

      Sincerely,
      HR

    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @03:41PM (#48868009)

      This sounds a little insensitive, but, don't be disposable. You're a Windows admin. Great. So are a million other people. If you're a Windows admin who also knows some programming, there are maybe 250,000 people with your skill set. If you add in that you know some Linux, maybe 100,000 people.

      What I'm saying is, if you want to be safer than the average employee, don't be average. Enhance your skill set.

      Everyone is disposable. All companies care about is $$$.

      Here's my experience, working for a *large* corporation... I have 25+ years (14 at my current company) as a Unix system programmer and system administrator with commensurate Linux and Windows experience - I've worked on just about every type of system from PCs to Cray super-computers. I am currently the lead developer of a three-person team on a cross-platform utility (Solaris,RedHat,Ubuntu,Windows) of about 300k lines of code in about 10 programming languages - 75% of which is my code - that is heavily used by our customers.

      I was almost laid off last summer, simply because I was one of the most expensive people in my category of people on the contract. Even pleadings from my two managers to the higher ups that laying me off was inappropriate had no effect. The *only* thing that changed their minds was the realization that I also worked on *another* contract onto which some of my work could be (properly) charged.

  • All employees are disposable, and always have been. Companies exist not to provide jobs but to provide profits for their owners. And they are not stupid. If churning employees didn't produce higher profits, it wouldn't happen. They have the data--if fact, you probably help them gather it.
  • by hwstar ( 35834 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:26PM (#48867119)

    1. Have/Learn marketable skills.
    2. Have plenty of money in the bank and as little debt as possible.
    3. Have a source of passive income to help with cashflow during times of unemployment (Rents, royalties, etc.).
    4. Have as few kids as possible.
    5. Be picky on what jobs you accept. Use 1-3 to exit the labor force for as long as necessary to retrain and regroup.
    6. Be active politically: e.g. Lobby congress for tighter H-1B restrictions, better labor laws, inclusive capitalism.
    7. Live below your means. Try to do as much as possible yourself without hiring contractors, mechanics, gardeners, etc.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:36PM (#48867203) Journal

    Only 22 years ago

    Link [dilbert.com]

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @02:41PM (#48867257) Homepage Journal
    You're supposed to be able to simply employee-start and employee-stop for whatever instances you currently need. People who complain that employee-create takes too long to run, just need to read up on how the snapshotting system works. This is way better than trying to guess the right values of StartEmployees, MinSpareEmployees and MaxSpareEmployees and trying to mitigate burnout by tuning MaxRequestsPerEmployee (as though each one needs the same setting!).
  • If you haven't seen it, Alec Baldwin gives an incredible good performance in a one shot scene in Glengary Glen Ross. The speech itself is just an incredible mastery of art. Too bad it's also evil. The key line is "Coffee is for closers." which means that only winners get perks.

    In that scene, he effectively preaches what I call "douchebag capitalism". The heart of his speech is that people should only be rewarded for success, not for trying. It is based on the false belief that success is entirely base

    • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2015 @05:03PM (#48868987)

      The heart of his speech is that people should only be rewarded for success, not for trying. It is based on the false belief that success is entirely based on your innate nature, rather than on the tools you are given or the environment you are in.

      No, it's based on the true belief that only success produces the rewards to pay you with. If you want to paid for trying but not succeeding, you have to take the pay out of the rewards gained by the people who actually succeeded.

      The world doesn't pay off on a "good try." That's not to say that a helping hand is wrong, but you should be aware that ultimately it all comes from somebody who tried and succeeded.

      • Incorrect.

        Your basic problem is you don't understand how the world works. You live in a black and white world where there is either success or failure, nothing in between. The real world has grays and colors.

        The real word DOES pay off on a good try. It does so all the time. People go to college and fail out. Yet they still do FAR better with the partial education they got then people that graduated:

        In the real word, people get married have children, and then divorced. Their marriage failed. bu

  • I think it was in the 1980s that the business world stopped being a place where you could join a company and expect it to look after you in return for your loyalty. I don't know why the author thinks the tech industry is so special that it would be immune from this.

    One thing driving this, or at least in the past that I have seen, is that people are brought onto projects when there is the ability to do so, not when there is the need to. So when the times are good you expand your workforce even if you don't

    • I think it was in the 1980s that the business world stopped being a place where you could join a company and expect it to look after you in return for your loyalty. I don't know why the author thinks the tech industry is so special that it would be immune from this.

      Sometimes it's good to get a specific picture of a subsection, even if it's just to confirm that the specific subsection is following the greater pattern as well.

  • My blog post [datascienceassn.org] today argues that it takes as much or less time to train an existing employee on new skills than it does to train a new employee on the company's domain knowledge.

    I.e., yes, companies should be training instead of churning. And training doesn't even cost anything any more except for the paid time to do it -- everything is online now.

  • This increasing churn may be one of the key reasons women tend to avoid IT careers. When you feel compelled to do what's best for a family, job and location instability is undesirable.

    The California dot-com burst certainly hit me, a father, in the wallet (and family time), as I was job-seeking in a glut market for a few years, taking crappy fly-by-night gigs that remind me of Bob Seger tunes. If I had been a single parent, I'd be screwed.

    Whether it's genetics or social norms, women often end up with the pr

  • There was the guy working for some company as a programmer who hired a programmer in China to do his work for him so that he could watch cat videos all day. IIRC, he paid the Chinese guy at the rate of $20k per year and the work was rated highly by the company's managers. Why hire an H1B person for $50k when you can hire someone outside the country for $20k that does good work and you don't have to go to all the trouble to get someone a visa, pay Social Security & Medicare taxes, pay moving expenses to the USA, help him or her set up all that's associated with settling in, etc., etc. We're talking 80% savings, not the much less 50%. Such a manager might might be considered a financial genius and end up Chief Financial Officer of the company.

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