By Lee Conrad
March 2nd, 2016 started for many IBM workers like any other work day, except there was more than the usual tension and misgivings in the air. Some had heard the drumbeat that bad news was on the way. Rumors of job cuts after another bad quarter had made its way into the offices, to the work from home people and out in the field at a customer site. The cut in severance pay to only 1 month was certainly a bad sign. Workers who had witnessed many years of relentless job cuts hoped the axe wouldn’t swing their way. But it did.
It didn’t take long for the reports to start coming into the Watching IBM facebook page, formally the Alliance@IBM site. And let’s be clear, if IBM employees hadn’t posted job cut information at Watching IBM the news of this mass firing would have gone mainly unnoticed. After Watching IBM alerted the media of a job cut at IBM they came in droves to see what was going on and to report what they saw. It took IBM a long time to admit that yes, a job cut was taking place, but in its usual practice it was a sterile response devoid of any compassion for the thousands losing their jobs.
There was no compassion or apology from CEO Rometty or the Board of directors for these workers who said:
“ I got the RA notice on Wednesday. I’ve worked for the company for 18 years and always received 1 and 2+ on performance reviews. The same week I got the RA notice I got a Manager’s Choice Award and ACE recognition for two separate projects.
Our entire remaining US team, including our manager, are RA’d and our six jobs are being moved to Costa Rica. Lucky me, as team lead, I am now tasked with hiring and training the new team members.
One month severance pay versus the six months that I would have received in any prior RA. This is the “reward” IBM gives those of us who have had the best performance reviews and avoided prior cuts and took on all the extra work as a result of prior massive RAs.”
“I am an SO casualty, after 17 years of service, & a 2+ review, my mgr told me that my job function will no longer be performed by a US resource. And I am to stay professional, continue working my projects and smoothly transition them to the next GR PM… I also happen to be retirement eligible but not actually ready… I am sure that though we get our minimalist 1 month severance, Ginny will still get her big bonus!”
“14 yr employee with IBM in the U.S., 4 yrs with Development with what is now Cloud Managed Services (CMS) Cloud. I was sent an email earlier today by my manager, followed by a phone call. She said effective today I was RA’d due to continued poor performance of the entire Cloud organization, specifically the CMS unit. I was to be allowed 90 days as a remediation period, followed by a 30 day severance.”
“The layoffs are hitting GTS sales teams. I will hit my 19th anniversary with IBM on what is scheduled as my last day of employment, June 2, 2016. I am totally disgusted by the severance change that takes what should be 26 weeks at my 36 mo. average earnings (which means commissions are included) down to 4 weeks of my reference salary (no commissions included). And they expect me to stick around and work for 90 days to get such a pathetic “parting gift”. I have spent my entire career at IBM (I was hired straight out of college) and this is what I get for almost 2 decades of loyalty. I am still sick to my stomach at the lack of decency that this company has.”
Hundreds of similar comments were posted. Many older employees seemed to have been singled out for termination sparking a warranted concern that IBM was still practicing what many believe is age discrimination in job cuts. Numerous comments were written about losing a job and work offshored or H1b visa workers stayed. Others took the cut in severance pay to task and many expressed outrage at the bonus CEO Rometty received, the cashing in of stock options by executives and the “rewarding” of the Board of Directors for keeping a blind eye to the destruction of employee jobs and the company.
Even retirees jumped in and said it was a disgrace what was happening at IBM. But IBM wrote off retirees long ago. No raise in the pension for 15+ years and if they can get away with it IBM execs will figure out a way to get retiree pensions off the books too.
To IBM employees, retirees and ex-employees the continued destruction of the IBM US workforce, while the CEO and her blind followers in the Board of Directors enrich themselves is a disgrace.
To IBM’s morally bankrupt executives it is simply just another day at the office.
I wasted 14 years in IBM. I never thought of moving on until this last straw of offering minimum redundancy, which would have left me with maybe 25%-35% of what I would have received under previous redundancy programs.
Now I work in a vibrant company where I am valued, in a team of great people, highly-skilled and top quality professionals, in a brilliant location, in a role I love (still feeling slightly inferior to the others at times, I put that down to an inherited complex from the past 14 years where I was often a square peg in a round hole).
The cherry on the icing on the cake is that after acting up by two bands in IBM for 12 months, taking the additional flak and stress for no extra reward and a disgusting PBC review, I now take home an extra £800 every month
I hope this message can act as a spur to those still mired in IBM and fearing for their future. There is a huge world outside of IBM. And it’s so much better it’s hard to believe.
I was part of the WPP IBM outsourcing and when we first moved over we had all the IBM managers (as well as the WPP managers who moved with us terrified about losing their own jobs) telling us what a fantastic opportunity it was going to IBM with jobs everywhere and exciting new ventures.
I personally saw it as a year long notice period to get out which thankfully i did. I went back to my old company last week and saw what a year of IBM has done to a once energetic and effective IT department. Gone are the friendly staff who cared about their company and in their place are souless short term contractors who’s short rude answer to everything is “log a ticket” to anyone who dares to come to the IT room. The general feeling for staff within WPP is the IT service is now not fit for purpose.
What was worse is that IBM told everyone in scope of the layoffs (who were just told that their redundancy packages were going to be the legal minimum) not to tell WPP employees about the situation as it would make IBM look bad to WPP!
It really feels like Autumn here (Europe), fall of the mature leaves… We’ve seen maybe around 20x increase in the amount of “goodbye” emails at the end of March alone. I’ve probably received around 15+ goodbye emails in the past 3 days. Most of the people that sent those emails are aged 50+. No wonder it was happening, and I hope that it’s over… Those people were probably notified at the beginning of March.
The disgrace is not I was let go, business I understand, the disgrace is with the CEO and the board.
I keep asking myself why did I stay? For years, they have increased the cost benefits, minimum industry raises and continue to demonstrate no compassion even to the end, 4 weeks severance. I make less today then I did when I started with the company.
Being the bread winner in my house, I could not even put away for retirement for the last few years. The severance pay cut will hurt me and my family, they are not going to have the funds for medical insurance for my family on top of everything else and we need it. I working everyday to find a new opportunity. At least if I had the severance pay and 30 days I could be focused on just finding a job, not trying to do a job while looking for another. One foot in, one foot out. I know I am not doing the best job for my client, as it is hard to focus just can’t do it.
I know that I will be better off without IBM. The company panics like no other, and every year there is a new requirements which seems almost impossible to manage, but I did it. The new checkpoint system just makes that even easier to find faults.
No one whom was let go deserved it. And at the end of the day, I belief we all will feel freed from a self created prison.
Off my soap box now, it helps to get a little perspective.
All my best for all those which are looking for new opportunities as am I, we will be better off.
In addition to my previous post, where I noted that you can search LinkedIN for IBM and U.S. and get employment numbers… its also possible to search IBM’s new Global Opportunity Marketplace (internally and externally) and get the numbers of open jobs. I have seen in recent news reports that there are 25,000 open jobs at IBM. No idea where they get that number from. If you search all open jobs in the USA, there are less than 7,700, not many more globally. That’s not a lot of jobs considering that this spans everything from zero to low paid interns to Medical Doctors, and covers the entire U.S. However, even within that, some of those jobs are actually not open, the manager just didn’t get around to closing it out even though the role is filled. So if you narrow the search to say the last 30 days, the number of open jobs drops substantially – I’m getting around 2,800. If you can get RA’d at any time, you probably wouldn’t want to uproot your family and relocate. So if you look for jobs that are USA(any) location or those in a particular city, it’s perhaps only a handful to a few hundred at most in the past 30 days. If you narrow that down to a particular pay band (which you can only do internally), then its very likely only a handful of that would be a match or even a stretch. I think that there are some jobs that are only open on the external site which do not appear internally. No idea how much of that exists. Another thing I’ve noticed is that IBM says it’s building it’s Watson and Cloud Business and needs those skills. The only Cloud jobs I saw were involving Storage, and only a handful. All of the people I know getting RA’d are in the Cloud Business Unit and have Cloud Skills. It has nothing to do with flushing out people with old skills and bringing in people with new skills, that would be a baldfaced lie. It’s far more difficult learning to navigate IBM’s vast bureaucracy than it is to pick up additional skills or knowledge around acquired technologies.
Thank you for your comments. This website and facebook page are new. It came into existence in February after the demise of the Alliance@IBM campaign. The facebook page has been getting massive visits.
I’m a little surprised at how few comments there are here. I only recently found this site and ibmemployee.com As someone who has not been with IBM very long, I was surprised with what I’ve been reading. Had I read it one year ago, I would have thought it was sour grapes. Only as of this month, I can affirm that 95% of what I’ve read I’ve also seen first hand. IBM is a split personality. There are clearly those who work non-stop and keep the company functioning, and then there are those who don’t do much of anything and yet get fast tracked, get handed the gigantic accounts. If you are not political, connected, related, you are the one of three corners actually holding the table up. And the saw is coming for you. I’ve been in IT and usually on the edge of new tech my whole career. I’m in my 50’s. There is most definitely an RA under way. And it is most definitely not healthy or logical in those being selected. A saying goes “Money Talks and B.S. Walks”. Strangely, at IBM, B.S. Trumps everything. Is it IBM or is it the times we are living in? What isn’t corrupt? Just as IBM treats(and names) it’s best milk cows as “Inner Circle” there is a corresponding “Inner Circle” at IBM. It’s sort of like being in High School, where there is Prom King (often the star quarterback) and Prom Queen (like the head cheerleader) who are above it all, can get away with anything, and snicker about the dorks on the bus. If you are IN with them, then you are with the IN crowd. From what I have seen, no question that people chosen to be RA’d is largely discriminatory. Management is smart enough to know they have to make it look good, so good luck proving it… So, what posters on these sites are saying is true. Yes, IBM is today a scam… but it’s also full of hard working and brilliant people who don’t know any better. Some are college hires, some clever people who dodged RA bullets, some are gifted geniuses that often came from acquisitions. All of them are expendable. Who is not expendable are those who are the IN crowd. The royalty that can’t be touched. They have the confidence and arrogance of being “Made” in “Cosa Nostra”. As a “Made” person, one is served like royalty, and acts with virtual impunity. And just like the mob, this business involves keeping the cash flowing, and flowing up, no matter what! And THAT is all that matters. And of course, it’s a lot easier to keep the Cash Levitation Machine moving, if you put your friends and family as peers at that table of “Made” members. As they sit at their tables and plot their schemes, rules(including laws) really don’t matter so much, as long as it appears so on the surface. Out of hundreds of companies I’ve never seen one that puts on a show like IBM about how much it cares about people, the planet, etc…, and then the insiders are really the complete opposite. IS that really what Warren Buffet is all about? Or do they have him conned as well? There is one thing I do not agree with other posters about…. that IBM is about to collapse. It’s not. Unfortunately, this mob-like kingdom continues to pillage and plunder and cook books, etc.
They are masters of it. Acquire new companies, change the names of everything, RA people, play with the numbers, promise the moon, deliver hot air, play the Business Unit shell game, and on and on… but in the end it’s like a Casino. The house takes their cut, pays out to the bosses, and all kinds of flashy lights, bells and whistles make it seem exciting and that everyone is winning. But that doesn’t mean the Casino is going bust. IBM will be around for a long long time because there is nothing to stop them from behaving this way. The truth has been getting posted and printed on these sites for years, and IBM is still around, and the huge payouts to those at the top continue. I could see someone trying to Buy IBM. Like APPL for example. They have the cash to do it. It would be a like buying a car dealership and finding that you have hundreds of execs managing 4,000 managers managing 40,000 sales people, with 10,000 other people onboarding and 20,000 people on the way out, and about 1,000 cars (some of them used). For this RA I don’t have an idea of numbers. Some are saying thousands, but it’s not clear how deep it is because of the silence. It’s rather surreal that suddenly lots of co-workers are going to vanish and no one says a word. I’m not sure if the numbers of U.S. employees is accurate. On LinkedIn, for example, if you search for people at IBM in the U.S. it returns about 100,000. There might be duplicates, retirees, or former employees that still have IBM as their current role. I’m sure there are people that don’t have LinkedIn accounts. So the 70,000 number could be correct. There has been heavy college recruitment and internships (lower pay). So the head count might be fairly stable at 70,000 but the average wage likely is hammered down except for the few Elites. Getting paid a 6.5 Million bonus when the company loses billions, means that about 60+ people had to lose their jobs just to pay for that bonus. 60 families screwed over, that’s a lot of lives affected to reward a huge loss. Buffet doesn’t talk about that sort of morality. I also can confirm about the PBC ratings of 3 being trumped up when they know an RA is coming. Now that going forward the PBC is replaced by a new system, it’s clear it can be manipulated the same way but without the numbers. Managers can hand people accounts worth 10s of millions without doing anything whatsoever to deserve it, while others might have to work around the clock cultivating smaller accounts worth fractions of that. Then hold them up and compare the people’s worth – oh look how much better this person is vs. this other person because of the big bucks. It’s complete B.S. I’ve met people that came from other IT companies and they often say it’s the same sorts of things… promising the moon but delivering crap to the customers or overcharging them… lots of games with salaries, territories, commissions, promotions, etc… So is it just IBM? Or has our whole country become a scam?
My advice to anyone starting at IBM would be to get connected, stay connected, kiss up to everyone above you, become teachers pet, marry another IBMer especially if they are 2nd or 3rd generation IBM, and so on. If you are not political, connected, related, or can’t pull rabbits out of hats, or B.S. the best B.S.’rs on earth then you immediately need to start looking for your next job.
Wow, this has been a very nice read!
Its scary how little the employee matters now.
I left last year after 19 years. My conclusion is that IBM is morally and ethically lost. I left Finance, an area of misinformation and the ultimate spin. Thank god I found something better.