These two threads seem to be greatly intertwined. Although some layoffs
occur simply because a group of workers has no useful skills, most often
they occur because those needed skills can be had elsewhere for less money
(cf. Rol's discussion of clothing manufacture.) May I summarize Intel's
approach which seems largely effective although by no mean flawless.
First, the organization does seem to have learned from the pain it
experienced in the mid-80s along with every other semiconductor firm. The
layoffs that occurred then are still talked about. Even with record
profits for more than 10 consecutive quarters, we frequently warn
ourselves not to become "another IBM" (meaning an acknowledged industry
giant that failed to keep itself lean and alert enough to respond to a
volatile market). And rising expenses were reported alongside rising
revenues to ensure that all employees saw the trends and forecasts.
Second, we've been stressing the concept of "total compensation," i.e.,
paycheck plus benefits (health and life insurance, paid time off,
retirement investment options, profit sharing, stock purchase options, and
other monetary incentives linked to corporate profitability). The goal is
to make minimum commitments (salary, insurance) which can be maintained in
a slow market and supplementing those with rewards that rise with
corporate profits (profit sharing, stock). In effect, my pay rises along
with the stockholders'.
Granted, the systems are as flawed as the people who implement them.
There are managers who staff and spend as if funds were unlimited, and
there are employees who leave for other jobs which offer a larger base
salary. But it is more common to hear people at all levels of the
organization questioning an expense, saying "that money comes out of my
bonus check, you know."
-- Ron Dickson <Ron_Dickson@ccm.ch.intel.com>
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