Some times, it seems that one never gets good news, only news about the slow, steady decline of one’s own situation. Yesterday evening, my employer announced that it was re-instating the stock purchase plan [which ran out of shares earlier this year] but at a much reduced discount of 5% instead of the 15% we have enjoyed throughout the last decade or so [I can’t vouch for any longer as I’ve only been around for a little over 9 years here]. Now, it just doesn’t make any sense to invest since on the average day, the stock price might dip 5% or go up 5%, but mainly it just hovers around where it is – there is no more growth. When the discount was 15%, there was enough room for profit among the ups and downs. Not so anymore. So, along with many of my fellow employees, I have decided to withdraw from the program. I think I might put forth a shareholder proposition that we change the name of our company from IBM to Ichabod, which means: “The Glory Has Departed”.
This is just the latest of many of the “depowerment” changes made by the largest technology company in the world over the last five years or so. Since the turn of the millennium, I have had almost every privilege, every perquisite, every incentive stripped away so that there is no more joy in my job: it’s only something I must do to pay the bills. There is no satisfaction of a job well done; there is no hope of promotion; there is little hope of any pay increase. Our bonus structure has whittled away to where there is almost nothing left. I am forced to spend valuable time traveling away from home when I should be at home with my wife, doing things to better our relationship and to better myself. The only good remaining in my job is that I have been paid a salary that takes care of my bills and it has been stable.
My employer constantly asks us what they can do to make our attitude and satisfaction better… but WITHOUT giving any substantial rewards. They want to know what they can do without it costing them anything. My answer is this: NOTHING. Everything worth doing costs something. Every “resource” [especially people like me] worth keeping costs something. Not always money, but certainly some investment of time and resources [which I guess translate to money in the corporate world]. To feel good about the work one does, there must be an incentive for a job well done. A verbal “atta boy!” only goes so far… not that we even get those words as rewards.
So: as we go on our way, working in relative isolation from our team and peers, I am constantly reminded of what one manager told me long ago: “IBM has come to stand for the words: I’m By Myself.” I have never felt so overlooked by my employer as I do now. I can only hope that things begin to improve soon, or we may lose the best of our people.