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Highlights—May 17, 2014

  • Bloomberg:

    Old and Fired at IBM: Tech Trendsetter Changes the Game, Guards Age Data. By Alex Barinka. Excerpts: For at least a decade, International Business Machines Corp. gave fired employees information detailing a severance package that asked them to waive age-discrimination claims and also included a page listing the job titles and ages of workers being let go.

    This disclosure helps fired employees determine if they have an age-discrimination case, and it’s required by U.S. federal law for workers over 40 if a company wants the person to agree not to file such a lawsuit. Now IBM is withholding the information, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. It’s avoiding the disclosure requirement by offering workers the option of bringing claims in arbitration.

    This disclosure helps fired employees determine if they have an age-discrimination case, and it’s required by U.S. federal law for workers over 40 if a company wants the person to agree not to file such a lawsuit. Now IBM is withholding the information, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. It’s avoiding the disclosure requirement by offering workers the option of bringing claims in arbitration.

    “It’s part of a long trend, a 30-year trend, of reducing the rights of workers,” Eisenbrey, who focuses on labor and employment law, said in an interview from Washington. “It’s just a symptom of the increased bargaining power that employers have over workers.” ...

    Under the old approach, fired employees had two options: accept severance pay and give up all age-discrimination claims, or reject the severance offer and preserve the right to pursue legal claims.

    Now, IBM doesn’t have to disclose the age and title data of co-workers in a group layoff because it’s no longer asking fired employees to agree not to take any legal action at all. ...

    Workers 40 years and older are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, which was passed by Congress in 1990 to amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. If a company fires two or more workers and asks them to waive age discrimination claims in exchange for a benefit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations require the contract to be “knowing and voluntary.”

    That means the information should be easy to understand, refer to specific age-discrimination claims, give the employees at least 45 days to consider the waiver and encourage them to seek legal counsel. It also must include eligibility factors, plus titles and ages of the group of workers considered for the layoff, including those who were fired and those who weren’t. ...

    While IBM’s new approach gives employees a way to pursue discrimination claims and still get severance pay, it also provides them with less information to potentially build a case for wrongful dismissal, according to Mark Carta, a lawyer whose client was awarded about $2.5 million this year in an age-discrimination trial against IBM. That, in turn, could help the company cut down on such claims. ...

    “It’s a new twist,” said Carta, who works at Carta, McAlister & Moore LLC in Darien, Connecticut. “A company like IBM can just wear you down. It’s a way for them to control their cost and avoid exposure to a jury.” ...

    Carta said he hasn’t seen the use of a mandatory arbitration provision in severance agreements at other companies.

    IBM, with more than 430,000 employees worldwide, has been seen as an early mover in employee-benefits changes, said Marcia Wagner, founder of the Wagner Law Group in Boston. It could be setting precedent for other companies once again.

    “They are a thought leader in this industry, and they are pushing the envelope,” she said. IBM’s changes in the waivers make “sense from a risk-mitigation standpoint. I think it’s going to be more prevalent.” ...

    By diverting claims to arbitration, IBM keeps the bulk of the proceedings out of court records and away from the public eye. Also, federal law makes it difficult for an arbitrator’s decision to be reversed, except in narrow instances.

    Workers in employment discrimination cases win against their employers about 21 percent of the time in arbitration cases, less than the 36 percent win rate in federal court, according to a Cornell University study that analyzed 1,213 arbitration cases from 2003 to 2007. These statistics didn’t include cases that were settled, which is about 59 percent of arbitration cases and 70 percent for litigation.

    IBM is encouraging disgruntled employees to first raise concerns through its in-house mediation program, called the Open Door process, before initiating arbitration. ...

    There’s an added benefit for IBM to keep layoff information out of the hands of fired employees. It makes it difficult for the public to determine how many jobs are being eliminated. IBM has said it doesn’t publicly discuss the details of staffing plans given the “competitive nature” of its industry.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • I live in Dutchess County, which once was the center of all technology for IBM. Watson's daughter has a home not far from where I live. Many of my friends and neighbors are retired IBM'ers They thought that they could count on the handshake that promised them a continuation of benefits. This promise has been squeezed IBM management to maintain earnings and their compensation and cover up their own ineffective management. Gerstner may have saved IBM but those who followed sucked it dry.
    • IBM office parks are beginning to look like Detroit factories. They are replacing their workers with temp agency employees.
    • I don't know why they call IBM a leader in Employee benefits, this is definitely an employer benefit. There is no benefit for the employee. Oh and for the open door policy, the manager says the Door is open, see ya.
    • As a former IBMer in I/T, I watched the ramifications of IBM's employee policies. The problem was, they went too far. They never got rid of almost anyone, no matter how incompetent and unproductive.

      Then Gerstner got in there, and now they don't know when to stop. They've cut to the bone and they continue to move to management which only knows marketing (and not the I/T business they supposedly manage), and they make constant cutting a way to make short term profits look better.

      Not much of a business model. Of course, when you're looking to make profits appear better next quarter, instead of having the best products and services a decade or three down the line -- your actions can be different.

      Companies today need to find a reasonable balance in a VERY competitive world. IBM lost its ability to do that in the 80's, and its been downhill ever since.

    • Been there and done that with a similar company. The layoff briefing was a sea of white hair. The "in house mediation" was conducted by the best friend of my former boss, and just in case, it wasn't binding on the company. The "arbitration" was conducted by a man who openly acknowledged that if he ever ruled against the company he would immediately be removed from the list of "approved" arbitrators. If you elected NOT to waive your litigation rights, the company immediately opposed even your unemployment benefits. How is it legal to require employees to waive their constitutional right to a jury trial while giving executives hundred million dollar "compensation"?
    • Maybe the time is nearing where we start seeing all sorts hanging from lampposts — bankers, politicians, and looting corporate executives.

      Has anyone looked at their Form-4 filings? Complete pillaging, hundreds of millions being taken out while they continue to build more debt on leverage for share buybacks. IIRC, IBM is a stateless corporation for tax purposes as well, how nice that their political graft is allowed to tax evade so easily, they paid well. Also not mentioned here is their fight with The BLS/government regarding mass layoffs (WARN Act) stating that divulging the mass layoff notice might hurt them financially and should remain secret. Brilliant.

      Those older folks being kicked off the IBM ship don't have life jackets. The 40 and under 60 demographic are going to be wiped out as they will never be compensated at their current castoff levels into the economic abyss. Considering Americans net household income is still in free fall, while costs to live climbs, I have to question what it will take for The People to take out their vengeance on the very people destroying them - on purpose. If you're of the older ilk, it's most likely too late for you, as you're too weak emotionally, physically and financially to put up any kind of fight.

      Welcome to the "new normal", where the country we inherited is squandered and pillaged.

    • Wow, so much to comment on so I'll have to pick my favorite points:
      • IBM only follows federal law and ignores state employment laws, as they failed to pay me through payroll period when my (and many other) states requires this.
      • IBM tactics are to keep changing responses to state EEOC, to confuse everyone.
      • Most employment lawyers work for "employers" and found several companies that wouldn't take my case as IBM pays better; many lawyers who would take the case weren't qualified, e.g. employment law must represent more than 50% of what they do (learned this too late)
      • IBM leadership in HR walked out the door when Gertsner arrived (or maybe when Czarnecki left). The open door process is gone (mistake to quote it here) as my husband's open door was basically ignored for 6 months when he retired at age 55, deciding it was better to leave on his schedule, not IBM's layoff schedule ... and nice boost in pay, stock options, etc, going to Oracle where they still respect technical skills.
      • Withholding the age and job title data, is a land mine waiting to explode. You see if anyone studied the number of job titles, they'd realize they are meaningless — in fact they're now a tool to put people into the layoff pipeline, months if not years before they get axed. I only discovered that my job title had been changed when the Maine group action lawsuit asked me to retrieve this data, and saw that my code had been changed in January (layoff in June) ... but my job didn't change?
      • IBM doesn't want negative news and that's what arbitration is all about, along with the ability to hide more information from prying eyes. I only wish I knew how the legal system worked when I got layed off, but alas you don't learn this until you become a business owner ... so now I can tell people spend as little time and money, while filing all the paperwork to get a court case schedule as that's your best chance of getting IBM to settle (and congrats to the 1 in a thousand) who won in court & hope you collect.

      My hypothesis has always been that these layoffs achieve two goals — they funnel retirement dollars into the executive pension plan that Gertsner created (before this, everyone was in the same plan) and they help mask IBM's true financial results when M&As don't deliver the numbers they want. It's all about numbers for Wall St, not about employees ... or even customers.

    • They saved approximately $1 billion in 401k contributions in 2013 by delaying them until 12/15 and paying in only to those who were still on the payroll as of 12/15. anybody who got laid off, retired or left before that date got nothing.
    • I've seen it myself as a former IBM employee. The company has laid off immensely talented employees in their efforts to reach their 2015 EPS roadmap goals.
    • IBM was one of the greatest tech company in the world through the 80's. In the old days IBM and Bell Lab were the two top companies for top talent coming out of top universities. Today it would be almost impossible for IBM to recruit any young talent (even average one). They have a few that were bought in by their acquisitions that still have stock options left.

      They really screwed all the old timers big time. The average engineer that say joined IBM in the late 80's or early 90's are the one that get hurt the most. Not only a lot of them get lay off but the one that are still there have lost at least $500,000 due to cut backs in their pay and benefits. Just the elimination of the defined retirement plan would have cost them about $350,000.

    • They get away with this because age discrimination is not only rampant but common knowledge in the tech industry. Just layoff older employees to avoid required pension contributions and healthcare costs, and replace with young and cheap H-1B's imported from India. And then collect your bonus.

      And, if challenged, blame outdated skills or performance of older employees, and add a few "phantom" employees to the layoff rosters for meet EEO. This has been happening since the 1980's — and continues month in and month out. The entire size of the US job market in software is only 3.5 million while this nation currently has nearly two million temporary foreign workers.

      Anyone with any doubts need only walk into the IT department of any large corporation. And coming soon to the balance of engineering, nursing, teaching, chemists, dentists, doctors, etc. No one should have any doubt the H-1B and various associated visa programs are corporate cronyism at the WORST for our nation and citizens.

    • I worked for IBM straight out of college from 2010 to 2014. This April I just joined a small consulting firm with a 30% raise. IBM is no longer a place for top talent, nor is it a place to build a career. With my short stint at IBM, I did not receive one raise, one bonus, nor did I get any opportunity to grow my career. And I was not lazy. I worked easily 50+ hours a week. Furthermore, I worked with many IBMers who have been with IBM when it was the place to be. Their advice to young professionals like me..."GET OUT...It's a sinking ship!" Until IBM starts to invest in the very people that made IBM the great company it used to be, it will remain a company in peril.
  • New York Times:

    IBM Poised for Growth, Chief Says. By Steve Lohr. Excerpts: This is a “rocky time” for IBM. That is the frank verdict from Virginia M. Rometty, the technology giant’s chief executive.

    In recent years, revenue growth at IBM has been stubbornly elusive, and new technologies like cloud computing have risen to threaten the company’s traditional hardware and software businesses. Those concerns have weighed on the company’s stock price, which has been stagnant since Ms. Rometty took over nearly two and a half years ago.

    But in an interview at IBM’s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., Ms. Rometty said she and the company now had a clear vision for how to pursue another generation of growth. ...

    Ms. Rometty’s message to IBM’s more than 400,000 employees is to embrace the future, and quickly, rather than resist it. The abrupt change in the company’s approach to cloud computing recently, analysts say, is an example. ...

    IBM faces plenty of competitors in the cloud market, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce. And analysts say that as the largest supplier to corporate data center technology, IBM has the most to lose when companies move from traditional data-center computing to cloud rivals of IBM.

  • ZD-Net:

    IBM faces 'rocky time,' but transformation holds the key: CEO. By Charlie Osborne. Excerpts: Big Blue's CEO Virginia Rometty told the New York Times that while decreasing demand for hardware and increased competition have threatened the company with stagnation and falling revenue, the company is seeking avenues of new growth. Rometty, who took the helm almost three years ago, inherited the challenge of boosting the firm's profitability margins, which have taken a dive as hardware and software demand gave way to cloud computing and online data-driven technology advances.

    Last month, IBM reported quarterly revenue which revealed that software alone is making the tech giant profit. Big Blue reported first quarter earnings of $2.4 billion, or $2.29 a share, down 21 percent year-on-year. First quarter sales were $22.5 billion, down four percent based on 2013 results.

  • Gigaom:

    IBM reaffirms ambitious $20 EPS goal — but no one but IBM seems to care. By Barb Darrow. Excerpts: IBM is hell-bent on achieving its promised earnings per share goal by next year. Analysts aren’t sure why it bothers.

    IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who has been press shy since ascending to the top job two years ago, has been unusually chatty of late. She surfaced in a New York Times interview Sunday, on CNBC on Tuesday. And at an analyst conference Wednesday, she reiterated IBM’s goal of hitting $20 earnings per share by 2015. That target was set in 2012 and is now viewed askance by analysts, some of whom think that this EPS bullseye is not only unlikely but sort of beside the point when investors should be focusing on revenue growth. ...

    So, IBM continues to refocus around cloud (and mobile) selling off its X86 server business, cutting jobs. But the thing is, nearly all of its competitors — including Microsoft, VMware et. al– are all after that business. I agree with analysts like Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconaghi who say the $20 EPS goal is more public relations than substance if profit comes from lower tax rates, layoffs and stock buybacks. IBM still has to convince the world that it can do cloud as well as, or better than Amazon, Microsoft, and a raft of other competitors.

    The only reader comment follows:

    You didn’t mention that it’s likely many high level executives bonuses are directly tied to hitting the $20 EPS goal. Shareholders may not care at this point, but the executives certainly still do.
  • Seeking Alpha:

    Revenue Growth: What Has Happened To IBM's Sales Culture? By Peter E. Greulich. Excerpts: Louis V. Gerstner took a culture defined by the three simple words -- Respect, Service and Excellence -- and replaced them with eight principles covering two pages in Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Although revenue per employee rose sharply from 1993 to 1995, this was the result of massive headcount reductions, not sales process improvements. Sales productivity dropped by more than 5% over the next six years.

    Samuel J. Palmisano replaced Gerstner's eight principles with five traits and nine competencies, which spanned several web pages. Always positioned in the press as the salesman's salesman, Palmisano did little to assist his former peers in sales over his nine years in the corner office. Revenue per employee stood at $228,000 in 2002, when he took the helm, and nine years later remained the same.

    Under Sam's watch, an IBM culture that was always full of heroic sales stories (stories of salesmen closing deals on the last day of the year, of lab support blackening the skies to solve a customer problem, and of executive teams that understood the value of human relationships) was replaced by a deafening silence.

    And as covered in my last article, linked above, Ginni Rometty is not off to a good start. To be fair, she is still working with the hand she has been dealt. She must focus now on transitioning her human resources organization from just an extension of finance to being a human relations organization. She must expect, enable, and set the example for her executives to be assistants to their teams. ...

    The Last Eight Years — Making Unsupported Claims. IBM's CEO and Board of Directors have claimed the following in their annual reports over the last eight years:

    • 2006 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved operations, sales force productivity and processes, and these actions have improved client satisfaction when working with the company.
    • 2007 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved operations, sales force productivity and processes, and these actions have improved client satisfaction.
    • 2008 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved operations, sales force productivity and processes, and these actions have improved client satisfaction.
    • 2009 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved operations, sales force productivity and processes.
    • 2010 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved operations, sales force productivity and processes.
    • 2011 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved sales force productivity and operational effectiveness and efficiency.
    • 2012 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved sales force productivity and operational effectiveness and efficiency.
    • 2013 IBM Annual Report: Simplifying and streamlining internal processes has improved sales force productivity and operational effectiveness and efficiency.

    It is hard to tell what these annual reports are using to substantiate such claims: it is definitely not revenue per employee or sales morale. The revenue per employee data covering the last two decades and the last ten years speak for themselves. ...

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • Interesting quotations from the Annual reports - same tag line pushed forward year after year about streamlined processes, etc. I was there through those years and nothing could be further from the truth. Layers upon layers of additional management and processes grew like weeds in a springtime pasture. Newly minted VPs with one or two people reporting to them at most, it was out of control.

      Relative to the sales culture, or lack thereof, the best way I can describe how it has morphed can be distilled down to a common sentiment I heard hundreds of times before I finally left, from folks all across the organization, and it went something like this: "Why should I bust my rump for 80 hours this week just to make that happen? In the end, the execs will make all the money and I will probably get laid off."

      Your new IBM culture in action, thanks to Lou, Sam and Ginni.

    • One question that I think we need to ask IBM's current leadership is the following: "Is a high margin, long-term profitable business found in a earnings-per-share product portfolio, or a customer driven product portfolio?" Essentially, I think that IBM in the "big iron" era learned that they had to listen to their customers and built a product portfolio aligned with and anticipating their customer needs, not stockholder's needs. This is just one cultural difference between the 20th Century IBM and the 21st Century IBM I am trying to raise.
    • Reading and speaking with many current and former IBMers has made it clear to me that the IBM business culture in general, once customer focused, has now become overwhelmingly internalized. Leadership is overly concerned with maximizing earnings and its own compensation, and the company no longer invests in its people (once a hallmark of IBM). The board today is a complacent old boy network, complicit in what is, very unfortunately, becoming a failing business. It can be rescued, but almost certainly requires a Gerstner type to come in and clean house. Undoubtedly, the company is experiencing another 1993 moment.
  • Wall Street Journal:

    IBM's Earnings Target Doesn't Compute. By Dan Gallagher. Excerpts: For IBM, talk isn't exactly cheap.

    That much was clear in the reaction to Big Blue's analyst meeting on Wednesday, at which it maintained its target of delivering $20 in operating earnings per share in 2015. Despite that promise, shares of International Business Machines slipped, adding to a steady decline since the company reported disappointing first-quarter results last month.

    Even more notable is how the stock has lost nearly 6% against a 30% increase in the Nasdaq Composite since IBM's last analyst day in February 2013. The $20-per-share target was promised there as well, but investors have grown more skeptical since.

    IBM had a reputation as a reliable generator of earnings-per-share growth despite challenges to expand its enormous revenue base. But that is looking tarnished these days. Earnings fell more than 15% in the first quarter from the year-ago period, with IBM reporting its eighth consecutive quarterly revenue decline year over year. ...

    The company said it has made 43 acquisitions since the beginning of 2010, but revenue has expanded by just a little over 4% in that time. To deliver 10% annual revenue growth now would require IBM to find about $10 billion in new sales in a market where its big rivals are hunting for precisely the same thing. ...

    The challenge of doing that explains why IBM maintains its focus on delivering higher earnings growth. But the target of $20 a share for 2015 implies growth of almost 23% over a two-year period, which looks ambitious. And IBM admitted Wednesday that it faces a "tax headwind" of about $1.50 a share against that goal. Moreover, based on the company's current forecast, share buybacks will account for less than half of the expected growth.

  • Financial Times:

    FT interview: Big blues. By Richard Waters and Martin Dickson. Excerpts: The IBM that Ms Rometty inherited two years ago is nowhere near the basket case it was in the early 1990s, when a near-death experience led to the shake-up that put it on its present course. But it is showing the strain. After badly falling short of revenue forecasts, its stock has all but missed the 50 per cent rally in major US stock indices since the start of 2012.

    Striking proof of how things are changing came late last year when the US Central Intelligence Agency handed a $600m data centre contract to an unlikely supplier: internet retailer Amazon. The sight of a government agency whose name is a byword for information security hiring a company that made its name on the consumer internet may well turn other customers’ heads, says Toni Sacconaghi, a computer industry analyst at Sanford C Bernstein. That “could call into question IBM’s role as the pre-eminent partner” for corporate IT departments, he adds.

    “You can never be fired for buying IBM” has long been a mantra for risk-averse IT managers. But these days, according to Steve Milunovich, a tech analyst at UBS in New York, customers can sometimes be heard using a new refrain that should send a chill down IBM’s spine: “No one gets fired for buying Amazon.” ...

    For more than a decade, IBM has raised its earnings per share by 11 per cent a year, even as its revenues have risen only 2 per cent. In 2011, that record was sufficient to attract the attentions of Warren Buffett, the investor, who had previously steered clear of the tech industry. Mr Buffett’s near-$11bn investment, for more than 6 per cent of the stock, has made him IBM’s biggest shareholder.

    As it turns out, he would have done better to buy index funds. IBM shares have underperformed the wider market since then, as revenues have slipped and Wall Street has worried that large parts of its business are threatened by the cloud. ...

    Most of the earnings-per-share gains of recent years have come from cost-cutting or from buying back stock, with relatively little from moving into new, high-margin businesses, says Mr Sacconaghi.

    Critics go further, contending that the relentless cost-cutting to hit earnings targets has damaged IBM’s business. It has been “death by a thousand cuts”, says Bob Djurdjevic, a former IBM executive and IT analyst.

    Such accusations exasperate Ms Rometty. “I don’t know what else I would do – what did I not do?” she says. Pointing to IBM’s spending on research and development, she adds: “Our investment level at over 6 per cent of revenues is fantastic and has been unwavering.” ...

    Ms Rometty herself pays tribute to an IBM culture that she says has served the company well over the long term, even as she presses for faster action from its 400,000 workers. Asked what she is doing to shake things up, she stresses a more responsive approach to the company – “a constant change, test, change, test [in] real time”. She adds: “I think all businesses are going to move into that: experiment, learn, try.”

  • Poughkeepsie Journal:

    IBMers to work for GlobalFoundries: Prelude to a sale? By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: About 150 to 200 IBM technical employees based at the semiconductor plant here will be dispatched to work at a partner company, GlobalFoundries, at its growing plant in Saratoga County, the Poughkeepsie Journal has exclusively learned.

    Travis Bullard, a spokesman for GlobalFoundries, said the arrangement is temporary, and is expected to run for eight months.

    The move occurs as speculation continues about whether GlobalFoundries will buy some of IBM's chip business. Sources quoted anonymously in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal said IBM is shopping for a buyer and GlobalFoundries is the leading candidate. There has been no comment from either company. ...

    Bullard said GlobalFoundries has "set up a new contractor service agreement with IBM," under which the workers will remain IBM employees but will work on GlobalFoundries projects. "We've actually done these in the past with IBM on specific projects," he said. "This one is a new one that will allow up to approximately 150 to 200 experienced technical folks that will be able to assist us as we work to ramp our production at our Fab8 facility."

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “Disillusioned”

      Technical Writer (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: The benefits package they offer is great: you get to put a good percentage towards your pension with contributions from the company, flexible working hours and working from home. I think this keeps a lot of people - especially those with families - where they are.

      The location where I work is great for outdoor activities and after (or even during!) work hours socialising, sports, and friendly inter-departmental competition is encouraged. Great people with a lot of knowledge and passion for the customer.

      Cons: In the last few years the company has been so focused on getting to a target earnings per share that everything, including employee morale, has suffered. There is no budget to do anything. Most importantly, even when you perform well, that is just a number in a report and a pat on the back.

      The loyalty we show for the company has not been returned.

      Low salary compared with the industry, little or no pay increase once you're on board; no bonuses in the last year, and when you apply for promotion (which is an exercise in bureaucracy if ever I saw one, why isn't it enough to have done a good job at that level as I have done for years?), a salary increase is not guaranteed.

      Graduates come in at a higher salary than longer-standing employees, even though they don't have any experience!

      It's very hard to know where you can move to internally because of the sheer size of the company. It's more like lots of smaller, competing companies under one roof. Unless you know someone it's hard to get into another 'silo'. Sometimes there are hiring restrictions internally (i.e. people moving departments).

      Lots of red tape, takes a long time to get anything done.

      Advice to Senior Management: Show the same concern for your employees as you do for your bottom line. You're losing good people.

    • “Not the future you are looking for if you want to grow.”

      Staff Software Engineer (Current Employee), Austin, TX. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Flexibility with work location and schedule. Reasonable management chain. The vast majority of employees are pleasant to work with.

      Cons: People who tend to stay at IBM are interested in optimizing their work/life balance, not pushing the envelope. This is a place for folks who like meetings, process, talking and PowerPoint. Unfortunately this cultural reinforcement has resulted in chasing off true development and technical talent which is not tolerant of these activities. Given the focus on cost cutting there is not much money to pay talent and due to the widespread exodus of engineering ability it is nearly impossible for management to recognize the truly skilled contributors from the pretenders.

      Advice to Senior Management: Divest laggard divisions more aggressively and bring in some new leadership at all levels with incentives to move IBM to the future, not cut their way to EPS driven bonuses without any creativity or growth whatsoever.

    • “A once-great company in a long death spiral”

      Engineer (Current Employee), New York, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Smart, dedicated co-workers; some vestiges of the old collegiality at the working level.

      Cons: IBM's business model is totally out of date. They are now being marginalized by new players like Google, Amazon, etc., and old competitors like HP-Compaq. As sales are falling drastically, they can't fire people fast enough. The executives are running the place like a third-world banana republic: massive bonuses for themselves; the working stiffs in the US are all being fired for low-cost, third-world labor offshore.

      The only engineering innovation that matters any more is financial engineering of the earnings per share. However, EPS targets can only be achieved by layoffs and share buybacks, due to falling sales, and Wall Street isn't fooled. Businesses and employees are being jettisoned at a rapid pace; a much smaller and weaker company will be the result.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop treating all non-executive employees like serfs. INVEST in new projects; don't shut them down the minute they fall below some unrealistic profitability threshold.

    • “Still Amazing — Depends on where you live and what you are doing”

      Senior Program Manager (Current Employee), Atlanta, GA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Opportunity to contribute, learn and grow, work from home, thrive on driving change and process improvements, lots of take-aways over the years but competitive salary, benefits etc. People make the company great!

      Cons: If you aren't revenue generating you are considered back office and if you are in the US there is a good chance your job over time will be moved offshore. Best opportunities for me are overseas. If you get out of management it's hard to find your way back in. No longer reimbursed for professional certifications but I'm glad I obtained them.

      Advice to Senior Management: People don't know when or if they will be let go. It's been like this for a long time and this is contrary to the foundational beliefs the company was founded on. Not respectful of people who have given their lives to make the company great.

    • “Laid back atmosphere”

      Operator (Current Employee), Research Triangle Park, NC. I have been working at IBM full-time for less than a year.

      Pros: In my position there are no tight deadlines to speak of. Pretty laid back. Plenty of work to keep me busy, but not a lot of pressure to meet hard deadlines. I come from just the opposite so it's a huge difference for me.

      Cons: Lotus Notes is terrible...I feel like it is the mid 90's. It's slow and buggy. I honestly could not stand using it if I was in my previous high-pressure (and high email volume) job. Since my role at IBM is pretty laid back the lost productivity just means I get less done...but that's OK.

      Required use of Linux as a desktop for anyone with privileged access. I like Linux as a server and like the command line but hate it for desktop OS.

      Things can be slow to happen...like getting access to things or policy changes, etc.

      Advice to Senior Management: Make Lotus Notes work well (i.e. be quick, responsive, and not buggy) or move to a better email client. I can't imagine the lost productivity time multiplied by each of the 400k workers each year.

    • “A challenging and difficult environment in which to work, but if being and thinking global is for you, choose IBM.”

      Senior Project Manager (Current Employee), Global Village (India). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: You can choose to learn something about yourself and business every day and never be disappointed — there is so much knowledge in the organization that the challenge is filtering to what is truly important to you in the now. IBM is your own personal MBA, such is the pressure and the challenge, but being part of a community that struggles and wins with you.

      Cons: Tough management, ruthless resourcing actions, bureaucracy, and your work is never finished. This is a company where you have to be entirely self-motivating when the going gets tough, or when significant people are made redundant around you. The performance ranking system can make for a dog-eat-dog environment where you have to outperform your peer to advance, and that can hurt collaboration or openness.

      Advice to Senior Management: Management needs to be more cognizant of the demands placed on their reportees, and be a filter of the pressure brought down from above. Too much of the HQ investor-driven behavior gets down the management line.

    • “Was once a great company - lost site of Company beliefs”

      Engineering Manager (Former Employee), Essex Junction, VT. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Great people; lots of opportunity to learn from others.

      Cons: Always wondering if your business/job will survive the next cuts. Cuts have become continuous. Forgot founding principles — NO respect for the individual that IBM was known for. Execs have forgotten what IBM was and what IBM should be.

      Advice to Senior Management: Remember the value of the people. Stop throwing people out the door just to meet numbers, and give us back the pensions you took away with incorrect and misleading information.

    • “Mediocre”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: Great flexibility and opportunities to change roles, functions; brand recognition; pay is good if you work in IBM Software Labs; great volunteering opportunities even in India.

      Cons: Very poor pay if you work for IBM Global Services in India; lack of transparency in performance review systems; the band system and job designations are vague and are interpreted differently across the organization; bureaucracy — it takes forever to get anything done from the support functions, especially Immigration.

    • “Hell on Earth”

      Graduate Consultant (Former Employee), London, England (UK). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year.

      Pros: I got away with doing literally nothing for 10 months: didn't go to work, didn't produce anything meaningful, didn't take calls, nothing.

      Cons: The training was the worst two months of my life. I would rather loose a limb than do it again. The management is completely incompetent — how do you let someone get away with doing no work for so long? When you do work you have to travel to the middle of nowhere e.g. Slough or an office park in Leeds; not my idea of fun.

      Advice to Senior Management: Leave the company. Let it cease to exist; the world will lose a blemish.

    • “Lost all the Good bits”

      IT Specialist (Former Employee), London, England (UK). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: A range a different jobs are available The technical people are still very good...but for how much longer?

      Cons: I took voluntary redundancy after 25 plus years, 1st quarter, 2014. After they asked for volunteers and I said yes, please, I was told no; we still need you. Then 2 weeks later I was told actually you are for the chop! A classic example of the quality of the management. The package was OK; nothing special.

      The process is more important that anything else.

      Virtually all second-line managers and above have next to no technical skills beyond turning on their laptops. The expense constraints are ridiculous and the PBC process lost all credibility years ago. However it can potentially affect your career. I was lucky in that I had a really good first line for 7 to 8 years but many were not.

      Short-term results are everything. Things like orders placed THIS WEEK, not this quarter, even though the various teams are measured quarterly. I saw a colleague roasted alive virtually because an order slipped into the follow week, even though it was the same month and quarter. Madness!

      Advice to Senior Management: Treat the people with the respect they deserve. It is they who made the company what it is and will most likely have to pick up the pieces when the 2015 roadmap is over and the most senior have taken there bonus/options and run to the hills. I don't think for one minute the senior management will consider this, of course.

    • “IBM”

      Program Manager (Former Employee), Austin, TX. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Work-life balance is very good as you can work from home or in office based on your needs. Offers lots of education resources on-line and on-site.

      Cons: Constant cost-cutting actions; mentality of employees seen as liability not asset. Continues to layoff excellent employees to get to 2015 road map even though it's no longer viable in this market. The PBC rating system is used to get rid of employees, not improve their performance. Once you are rated a "2", you are on the "layoff list".

      Advice to Senior Management: Get rid of the PBC rating system. It's outdated and no longer relevant. The skew system is not fair as very good employees have their ratings lowered just because it's "their turn".

    • “To date, the most deserving company to work for”

      Business Analyst (Current Employee), Quezon City, National Capital Region (Philippines). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: Outstanding benefits; competitive salary packages; training abundance. Cons: Must learn to work on your own; growth depends on the extra effort you put in outside of your work scope. Advice to Senior Management: Leadership must consider allocating certain amount of work hours per week for employee to focus on trainings.
    • “Don't treat employees well, bad management”

      Project Manager (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: Decent benefits; somewhat stable; interesting projects at times; flexible/can work from outside the office.

      Cons: Personal growth is almost non-existent. Management doesn't treat employees well. It's almost bully-like. No pay raises in years. "Bonuses" — almost embarrassing they are so low. Quick to point out the bad; slow to congratulate you on a job well done. Toxic environment — morale at an all time low.

      Advice to Senior Management: Take a look at what groups the talented employees are leaving and who is heading up that group. Perhaps they are the root of all the turnover. Replacing talent is $$$. Do a better job of retaining the ones you've got.

    • “IBM does not care about American workers. It is shedding them as fast and as discretely as possible.”

      Operations Manager (Former Employee), Poughkeepsie, NY. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Huge company with HUGE expectations to live up to.

      Cons: IBM treats its employees very poorly. Benefits and perks have been stripped away over the last 10 years. Now they will come for your job and your salary. Everyone lives in fear of the layoffs. There are startlingly few resources for such a big company with that much cash on hand. Big new projects don't have the budgets to meet their targets properly. It's only a matter of time before quality becomes a big issue.

      Advice to Senior Management: Come down from the stratosphere and see what you are doing to this great company and the average American worker.

    • “IBM”

      Sale Executive (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Awesome company to work for. Very focused on client experience and has a broad portfolio of services, software, and hardware solutions. Cons: US economy struggles has reduced development and advancement opportunities
    • “Do not Waste Your Life”

      Staff Engineer/Scientist (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Nice people to work with. Flexible work schedule specially when starting your family. Competitive salary to start with, but do not expect any raise or promotion. No job growth.

      Cons: Constant layoffs. Incompetent management; promotion is based on golf buddy system. Major projects goes to top echelon (paper pushers) even though the actual work is being done by the other staffs. No recognition/promotion if you are not the manager's golf buddy circle. No job growth or advancement. No education benefits. Expect layoff every year.

    • “IBM'er impressed by past CEO so joined as promised and worked more years than promised.”

      Managing Consultant (Former Employee), Hong Kong (Hong Kong). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 5 years.

      Pros: Vast self-learning library so you can certify on just about everything in your spare time. So when you leave for greener pastures you're well versed in just about everything in technology and packaged software.

      Cons: No spare time or you're let go (pink-slipped)...because you don't meet numbers. Non-US offices are subject to local culture nuances. China leaders employ GF's as non-working employees putting even more pressure on working team members to support concubinage.

      Advice to Senior Management: Review local culture and alignment with acceptable standards. If management gets a staff GF we should all get GF exemptions.

    • “Red Tapism at best”

      Business Analyst (Former Employee), Bangalore (India). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: This company doesn't have any pros—it's a parallel government with lot of red tapism. Cons: Company with no values. Has bad sales strategy and too many leaders in management...while they get promoted very frequently; the people who overwork do not get promoted. Advice to Senior Management: Please concentrate on improving the lives of subordinates instead of writing books about elephants.
    • “A poorly managed company”

      Multiple (Former Employee), Armonk, NY. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: IBM was a great place to work up until the early 2000's. It had principles and pushed technology forward. There was opportunity for education, conferences, activities, etc.

      Cons: After 2000 they lost sight of the things that made them a great company. Employees were treated as disposable items. Quality was no longer of concern. Jobs went out of the US simply because of cost. Social issues were pushed for the few at the expense of the rest. Benefits and retirement policies were reduced.

      Advice to Senior Management: Gerstner took over IBM and stripped it of it's soul...then Palmisano burdened it with layers of clueless mismanagement which yielded Rometty to complete the dehumanization. This company is living on the fading fragrance of a long empty vase. It is no Google, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, etc.

    • “Client Executive”

      Client Executive (Former Employee), DFW, TX. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: World-class technology solutions; great, knowledgeable people; learn something every day; stellar reputation in the industry.

      Cons: Huge and complex company to work for; matrixed organization makes it difficult to be quick and responsive to client needs; constant management churn makes it difficult to have clear strategy in place to execute; change is constant which makes it difficult to produce consistent results; top management unable to show revenue growth, but is very focused on EPS metric to make Wall Street happy.

      Advice to Senior Management: Have a 5-year plan for the company to grow and execute on it, instead of constantly changing the product/solution mix which results in revenues going down every year (quarter). Have a long term vision/strategy that is built around the factors described in the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins and execute on that with a core management team that stays in place for 5 to 10 years.

    • “heartless company with no loyalty to employees — especially ones from acquisitions.”

      Senior Product Manager (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: If you want to travel globally, there are lots of jobs for that...but expect to fly coach no matter where you go. In some areas they pay competitively, but you will work lots of hours.

      Cons: The benefits are eroded for a big company and not that good. The growth opportunities will just depend on your own initiative, and willingness to stick your own neck out and search — no one will be looking out for you and trying to get you a path/promotion — unless you are real lucky and get a rare boss that will do that. It's not the IBM way.

      The company has a bias toward "an IBMer" who is someone that has been with the company for some time. Middle managers from acquisitions are at a big disadvantage. The culture is very cut throat. There is an illusion of a work/life balance (lip service paid to it). Upper management seems to in many ways out of touch (ivory tower like).

      Advice to Senior Management: Look for ways to empower first line managers more. They and the people that work for them are you life blood, and I've talked with enough to know it's not pretty what they are dealing with, and generally their opinion of the company is not very good

    • “Great company with great professional talented team.”

      Contract Recruiter (Former Employee), New York, NY. I worked at IBM as a contractor for more than a year.

      Pros: Work/life balance with great compensation. Solid technical tools to get the job done. They hire solid talent so you grow your career along with being super productive with shared business goals.

      Cons: Can be variable in recruitment space as projects vary in closure. Part of any recruitment company in terms of being adaptive. Overall, great experience during my couple of years.

      Advice to Senior Management: None.

    • “Started out great but as time went on, got worse and worse.”

      Advisory Hardware Engineer (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: Flex time, work-life balance was reasonable. Cons: With IBM's move to get out of hardware and the semiconductor business, cutting employment to the bone. Benefits get worse every year; no raises; screwing older employees re: retirement, etc.
    • “Very Good Company to work with”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee. Pros: Every thing is good. Cons: I don't have any cons for this employer. Advice to Senior Management: NA
    • “Review of IBM”

      Managing Consultant (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: They have fantastic, brilliant colleagues who are very supportive and fun to work with! Cons: Poor quality managers! The Senior Partners (who are managers) — some are DREADFUL to put it mildly! Poor work-life balance. Advice to Senior Management: Train the Partners who are managers to their employees...train some of the awful ones...on how to be human and humane! Some should take Compassion 101 training!
    • “Don't care about the employee”

      Advisory Software Engineer (Current Employee), Littleton, MA. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years.

      Pros: There is a lot of exposure to different industries. It's very easy to have a career at IBM where you can change what you are working on every few years without getting board working on a single project/technology.

      Cons: The company is too big for its own good. The company doesn't care about the employee and due to its size takes forever to approve requests for simple things like a notebook or a box of pencils.

      There are a number of standards that they put in place to ensure all the application have a similar design paradigm means that creativity, exploration, and progression through a fast paced ever changing world is nearly impossible.

      It's impossible to move up in the company; raises/bonuses are few and far between. No company outings; health care options cost more than any other company I have worked for or heard about.

      At the end of the day the only things the upper management cares about is whats in their paycheck; the promises made to the stockholders; and they really don't care about you as a person.

      On a business note, our customers were also frustrated with the speed at which IBM moved. They need fixed, enhancements etc. to compete in their market. Waiting for yearly releases just isn't possible anymore. Customers need a more agile release process where they can get releases and change faster and they can put them in place more quickly and efficiently.

      Advice to Senior Management: Listen to your customers and give something back to the employees. They work hard and don't have much to show for it.

    • “Manager of technical professionals”

      Manager (Former Employee), Research Triangle Park, NC. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Opportunity to work with smart people all over the world. Interesting problems to solve. Ability to change roles without changing companies. Generally pretty flexible with work schedule.

      Cons: I and my whole team of experienced (high-performing) professionals were fired in 2013. The company is on a short term EPS path; achieving numbers via cost-cutting, which causes a downward spiral to the whole business. The practices hurt innovation (contrary to goals in the press), because employees are obviously not valued, and constantly in fear of losing their jobs.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop treating employees like disposable equipment.

    • “Good career growth but constant threat of layoffs.”

      Staff Hardware Engineer (Former Employee), Rochester, MN. I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Many paths for advancing your career and skill set. Great people to work with (though if most of your team is on another site, move there or change to a local project). The environment really is set up to communicate well with your team and provide you the required assistance in getting a project done.

      Cons: Constant threat of layoffs even in the quarters with good market performance. Upper management really gives no warning about employment prospects. It is probably best to be in a city where there are other employment options, should your job go away.

      Advice to Senior Management: I've enjoyed my 1st and 2nd line managers (even some higher ups), but upper level management seems to focus on stock performance over retaining good employees.

    • “Pretty good.”

      Manager (Current Employee), Armonk, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 3 years. Pros: One has the opportunity to select from a wide variety of projects. Compensation is reasonable. The work environment is pleasant. Cons: Sometimes projects drag on too long. Navigating the many layers of management can be tiresome. Advice to Senior Management: Consider offering bonuses for high performance.
    • “Great Name on resumes but disappointing working experience.”

      Senior Consultant (Current Employee), Washington, DC. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year. Pros: Great name to have on a resume. Cons: Consultants are only viewed as billable seat with no real opportunities to develop. There's a great disconnect between the marketing pitch and the reality of how IBMers are treated. Advice to Senior Management: Stop what you're doing. It is not working.
    • “Hardware engineering”

      Senior Development Engineer (Current Employee), East Fishkill, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Lots of very smart people. IBM has great capabilities to develop and debug cool products. Managers are generally skilled and bright enough not to micromanage. They let you do things your way as long as you get your job done.

      Cons: Poor morale caused by frequent layoffs. Upper management doesn't share much information about the hardware division's future trajectory. Pay raises and bonuses have been scarce for several years.

      Advice to Senior Management: Slow cuts to staffing is not working for the company or employees. A mission that is appropriate to our new staffing size needs to clearly stated and then implemented. Start sharing more big picture information.

    • “Good company”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). Pros: perfect wages and good working time work-life balance for new hire without too much pressure. I like the working atmosphere there and enjoyed the time there. Cons: work is very limited, not good for the comprehensive development for new hire many talented people left there because of there is too little opportunity for them to grow. Advice to Senior Management: just keep going.
    • “A dystopian tragedy”

      Project Manager (Current Employee), London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: The ability to work from home. Still an OK severance package.

      Cons: The innovation left several years ago. IBM is now expert at acquiring companies and over a few years destroying their value. The bureaucracy is something to be experienced. The internal systems waste 30% of my time. The sale is all that is important; the delivery is often seen as an inconvenient expense. There is no point in working for promotion as you don't know when your number will come up. An average 6 months and you will be RA'd (Resource Adjusted, aka made redundant).

      Advice to Senior Management: The management know via internal and external surveys that morale and loyalty to the company is rock bottom — but they have little room to move given the sums wasted on share buy back and road map 2015. Management should abandon road map 2015. Take the share price hit — the market will return when it can see that the company is generating real value rather than paper value.

    • “Too big to be manageable”

      Contract Manager (Current Employee), Bratislava (Slovakia). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than a year.

      Pros: Great people work in there. The experience is in overall positive, but it is the kind of job that you cannot do for too long. You have freedom to move to other teams in the country in case you hate your job. They also promote the rotation to try to avoid that people get to comfortable on their job.

      Cons: It varies on every country IBM is in, but in Slovakia you get no overtime paid, in any way. That means that you will stay very late sometimes to support deals you are getting no commission for, for basically no extra money or vacation. You can cope on that for few weeks, but not for long.

      It is extremely inflexible in many ways. You can start from the bottom, perform perfectly and get a better position, but your salary will not be raised in a year for a battery of reasons: frozen budget, the raises take place only twice a year, your salary cannot be uplifted more than 20% a year. They recognize the hard work, but they are extremely reluctant to pay for it.

      They have stupid internal policies. Everybody knows they are stupid but nobody stands up and shouts for a change.

      For an IT company, the technological resources are not the best. They try to sell cloud but don´t offer it to the teams; the file size of an employee is 150mb when your Gmail account has gigas.

      Advice to Senior Management: It is difficult to advice anything to managers. I know how my team works, but I don´t know how the same team works in Brazil or in Malaysia, so I think that they do what they do for a reason... that I still didn't manage to understand :)

    • “Looks good on resume, but don't plan to spend your entire career there.”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years.

      Pros: Lots of different projects to work on in numerous fields. Lots of talented people. Many opportunities to telecommute. Typically get to work on different projects if you stay there for quite a few years. Decent benefits.

      Cons: Generally don't seem to appreciate the employees any more. They kill (or move overseas) entire projects and often don't give employees a chance at other jobs within company, no matter how talented and hard-working they have been proven to be.

      Strategy is all about earnings per share, not about how to improve products and their service to customers to increase revenue.

      The value to customers has decreased significantly over the years. Decent pay increases rare except for the select few. Rating system seems to be based largely on office politics.

      Can be difficult (or impossible) to move between divisions, even when you have the skills and the jobs are available (to those already in that division). Benefits, although decent, have steadily eroded over time. Little or no education any more.

      Advice to Senior Management: Remember when IBM valued their talented and hard working employees? Need to get back to that. Skills and experience matter. Replacing experienced people who work well (and have a history with) customers with younger, less skilled (of course lower paid) workers does not treat customers properly. Customers are figuring out what is going on. Too many levels of management. Remember when Gerstner came in and reduced the levels. It eventually went back to the way it was before. Figure out technologies and products to pursue and let that drive earnings per share, not the other way around.

    • “innovative, good strategy”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: work is challenging and interesting. colleagues brilliant. it's never boring. flexible work time. home office. even if the payment could be higher, the flexibility is priceless. Cons: one has to focus on promoting his image and the one of the manager. if you work without visibility and without helping your manager achieving his goals, you will not get promoted. the work-balance is as good as each is making it. Advice to Senior Management: spend more time on managing people and less in administrating. ask if the feedback you get is thinner than expected. make sure your professional goals are known in team.
    • “Skip a sales role”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). I have been working at IBM full-time for more than 5 years. Pros: Benefits, ability to work from home. Cons: Where to start? No sales culture, too many meetings, no focus on the customer and clueless first line management. Advice to Senior Management: None, they wouldn't listen anyway.
    • “Large multinational corporation”

      Advisory IT Specialist (Former Employee), Melbourne (Australia). I worked at IBM full-time for more than 10 years. Pros: There used to be a variety of interesting work for most of time. The company brand attracted large customers with projects calling for complex, multilayer-ed solutions. Cons: Your salary will not grow very much once you've joined. Due to the company size, there is a significant amount of bureaucracy and process. For the same reason, you will feel fairly isolated and rather anonymous. Advice to Senior Management: Hmm.
  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • Forbes:

    Workers Unhappy With Health Benefits As Companies Cut Back. By Bruce Japsen. Excerpt: As more companies cut back on medical benefits and raise deductibles, workers don’t like these corporate cost-shifting moves to employees, according to a new survey of more than 5,000 full-time workers by professional services consulting giant Towers Watson (TW).

    For years now, a key strategy of employers is to shift costs onto workers via higher deductibles and co-payments in part to slow the growth of the total company-paid premium by getting workers to think twice before choosing an expensive test or procedure in hopes these workers become better shoppers. Those moves are translating into rapid deterioration in the percentage of workers who are happy with their health benefits.

  • Washington Post:

    U.S. productivity: Putting in all those hours doesn’t matter. By Brigid Schulte. Excerpts: Americans work among the most hours of any advanced economy, save Korea, where stressed out workers have begun checking themselves into prison-like institutions to get away from it all, and Japan, where they’ve invented a word for death from overwork: karoshi.

    Americans also work among the most “extreme” hours, which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines as 50-plus hours a week. It’s a trend that’s been accelerating among white-collar workers since the 1980s, especially once Silicon Valley programmers started pulling all-nighters and wearing T-shirts boasting “90 Hours a Week and Loving it.”

    But let’s face it, the official record of hours worked doesn’t tell the whole story of our work-worshipping, workaholic culture. What’s missing? All the “after-hours” unpaid, off-the-clock face time you put in at the office because the boss is still there, or because everyone else is still there, some deadline is looming, or you’re afraid you’ll be seen as deadwood if you leave first. The Japanese also have a word for this: furoshiki, “cloaked overtime.”

    What else is missing from those work hour calculations? All the time on technology, the stolen evenings answering texts and calls, the e-mails that come in at 11 p.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m. The constant feeling of being tethered to the office and always “on call.”

    Even so, you can almost hear the chorus of rationalizing, if exhausted, protest in workplaces throughout the land: “Yes, but isn’t putting in all those hours just what it takes to be No. 1?”

    That’s why the OECD’s annual measure of productivity is so eye-opening, No, it turns out, it doesn’t. Long hours, in some cases, are a drag on hourly productivity, not to mention efficiency and innovation. Take Japan and South Korea, for instance, which hover close to the bottom of the hourly productivity rankings despite the meditation prisons in Korea and workers dying at their desks in Japan.

    Some years, Norway, Luxembourg and Ireland rank higher than the United States in hourly productivity. Germany, which has a policy of “Kurtzarbeit” or short work hours in order to spread the work around and reduce unemployment, is highly productive by the hour.

    And the country whose productivity in many years rivals the overworked United States? France. Yes, France. Where workers enjoy 30 days of paid vacation every year (the United States is the only advanced economy with no paid vacation policy), generous social supports (the cost of a maid is tax deductible!), and, as one recent controversial commercial put it, a leisurely stroll to the café after leaving work at a decent hour.

    Denmark, a country I visited while reporting “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” a book on time pressure and modern life, is not only one of the most productive, but also one of the happiest. (The United States, in contrast, is ranked by the World Health Organization as the most anxious.) In Denmark, I was told, no one is rewarded for working long hours, and the boss is often the first out the door. “Here, if you can’t get your work done in the standard 37 hours a week,” one Dane told me, “you’re seen as inefficient.”

  • The Fiscal Times:

    Rubio’s Retirement Savings Solution: Work Longer. By Rob Garver. Excerpts: In remarks at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered several proposals for increasing Americans’ financial security in retirement including incentives to get them to work past retirement age.

    “[T]he retirement system we have in place does not line up with the needs and realities of our post-industrial economy,” Rubio said. “In this new century, most people will live longer and voluntarily work longer. And many people will change jobs countless times, often in business for themselves or working for companies that do not offer retirement savings plans or pensions.” ...

    Additionally, he endorsed turning Medicare into a “premium support” program under which seniors would be given a voucher that they could spend on health insurance, either by buying into the current Medicare program, or purchasing a qualifying private plan.

  • New York Times op-ed:

    It’s Now the Canadian Dream. By Nicholas Kristof. Excerpts: It was in 1931 that the historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “the American dream."

    The American dream is not just a yearning for affluence, Adams said, but also for the chance to overcome barriers and social class, to become the best that we can be. Adams acknowledged that the United States didn’t fully live up to that ideal, but he argued that America came closer than anywhere else.

    Adams was right at the time, and for decades. When my father, an eastern European refugee, reached France after World War II, he was determined to continue to the United States because it was less class bound, more meritocratic and offered more opportunity

    Yet today the American dream has derailed, partly because of growing inequality. Or maybe the American dream has just swapped citizenship, for now it is more likely to be found in Canada or Europe — and a central issue in this year’s political campaigns should be how to repatriate it.

    A report last month in The Times by David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy noted that the American middle class is no longer the richest in the world, with Canada apparently pulling ahead in median after-tax income. Other countries in Europe are poised to overtake us as well.

    In fact, the discrepancy is arguably even greater. Canadians receive essentially free health care, while Americans pay for part of their health care costs with after-tax dollars. Meanwhile, the American worker toils, on average, 4.6 percent more hours than a Canadian worker, 21 percent more hours than a French worker and an astonishing 28 percent more hours than a German worker, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    Canadians and Europeans also live longer, on average, than Americans do. Their children are less likely to die than ours. American women are twice as likely to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth as Canadian women. And, while our universities are still the best in the world, children in other industrialized countries, on average, get a better education than ours. Most sobering of all: A recent O.E.C.D. report found that for people aged 16 to 24, Americans ranked last among rich countries in numeracy and technological proficiency. ...

    The top six hedge fund managers and traders averaged more than $2 billion each in earnings last year, partly because of the egregious “carried interest” tax break. President Obama has been unable to get financing for universal prekindergarten; this year’s proposed federal budget for pre-K for all, so important to our nation’s future, would be a bit more than a single month’s earnings for those six tycoons.

  • The Fiscal Times:

    U.S Broadband Access Is Terrible; Fixing It Could Be Worse. By Bob Garver. Excerpts: A study late last year by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute demonstrated that consumers in U.S. cities generally pay much more for a connection to the Internet and receive less connectivity than peers in Europe and Asia. They also have fewer choices, both in terms of ISPs and service packages.

    In Seoul and Tokyo, for example, consumers can subscribe to “gigabit” service for less than $35 a month. The gigabit service delivers download speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second. The average U.S. consumer’s download speed is about 24.2 Mbps, and while gigabit service is available in a few U.S. markets, like San Francisco and Chattanooga, even the cheapest U.S. carrier charges twice as much as those in Tokyo and Seoul.

    Even at sub-gigabit levels of service, the Open Technology Institute found, U.S. providers don’t come close to matching the deals available abroad. Verizon last year announced that in certain markets, it would provide 500 Mbps service for those willing to pay $300 a month for it. A similar plan in Amsterdam would cost about $86.

    The problem is that in the U.S., most homes are served by a limited number of ISPs. In some cases, the only option for a broadband connection is a cable television provider that has exclusive access to entire metropolitan areas. Others have a cable provider that competes with a phone company offering DSL service. In rare cases, companies like Verizon have run Fiber optic cable to domestic subscribers, but in most markets, that remains rare.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • Marco Rubio Proposes Dismantling Medicare and Raising the Retirement Age
    • Gender Gap Continues for Female Workers in Retirement
    • Striking Fast Food Workers Stage Protests Across the Globe
    • States Refuse to Expand Medicaid and Still See Increased Enrollment
    • A Rose by Any Other Name...
New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 05/11/14:

    I'm an IBM contractor, on their AT&T account. Month after month, we are given a list of CLAIM project numbers and percentages to which to charge our time. The projects are often ones we have nothing to do with. Then, every month, we are asked to go in and change those numbers — always to *different* projects we have nothing to do with. I have records of all these requests, in order to protect myself. My question: Should I blow the whistle to the client? This all smells like possible fraud to me. Thanks. -Anonymous-
  • Comment 05/12/14:

    Unioneer is right — my manager told me to increase my utilization to 128%; but he did NOT tell me to falsify anything. I just know for a fact that productivity in those extra hours is irrelevant. Nobody cares about that. It's all about billing the hours. -A-
  • Comment 05/12/14:

    The IBM CLAIM process is just as rigged and unethical as the IBM PBC process. IBM management uses it for its own agendas and corrupt goals. -da_facts-
  • Comment 05/12/14:

    @Anonymous - Contract CLAIM. Unless you can directly relate your CLAIM billing to invoice, you're making an assumption on the relationship between your time and the bill which could be wrong. Your activities are for internal project cost accounting. Without proof of how your CLAIM is measured into dollars, I wouldn't say anything to the client. There are often times a lot of things rolled into an invoice before the clients sees it. There can be give-back in labor (no-charge T&M); there can be billing breaks on volume labor. To assume that everything that is CLAIMED is straight-line billed is not wise. You need more information on the invoicing side or you need to give us that information in order for a more-informed opinion. -Ed-
  • Comment 05/13/14:

    To IBM$uck$ Twenty years ago I started as a secretary to upper level and though this is a forum on job cuts, it ties in. Whenever there was a "anonymous complaint" or negative feedback on surveys the managers would gather and figure out exactly who "anonymous" was; and that person would be targeted! I left years ago but my husband still works there...can't wait for him to leave. -Sharon- Alliance reply: All the more reason to join the Alliance and work with a group of members instead of doing it on your own.
  • Comment 05/13/14:

    IBM continues R/A due to age discrimination. If you are over 49, IBM will find a way to get rid of you. All of this started under three-finger Lou. I am a third generation IBMer; my grandfather had 27 years; my father had 32 years; and I retired from IBM with 27 years of service. Growing up in Endicott New York, it was a great place to live and work until Lou became CEO. He destroyed my home town and a lot of IBMer lives. IBM needs a union contract to protect the IBM employees of today. Join the union. -ANA-
  • Comment 05/13/14:

    You Want IBM's Cloud? You'll Have to Pay for Watson First. The question is how much of IBM's proprietary advantage is real, and how much is a sales pitch? Like rival Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, Rometty says her company is "poised for growth" but based on Watson's promise rather than the mainstream of cloud. -anonymous-
  • Comment 05/13/14:

    Ginny doing the road show trying smoke and mirrors at the NYT and today on CNBC. When asked by David Faber today if IBM is done with divestitures after the Lenovo deal Ginny responds:
    "I would say-- I would always answer never, I mean, because it's continuous transformation. If I have learned anything in my decades with this company, it's constantly changing this company for the future. That's what I'm here for."

    Only way she is going to make $20/share by 2015 is to joint venture and dump Microelectronics Division. -MORE DIVESTITURES-

  • Comment 05/13/14:

    I saw Ginny's interview on CNBC this morning. She had a very hostile attitude and was very, very bitter toward older IBMers. Expect more RAs for the older workers. She said that the bottom line revenue interview for each quarter was as important as satisfied customers. That is why RAs continue at IBM to make the numbers every quarter. Theses CEOs Lou, Sam And Ginny are all about bonuses and stock options and don't give a damn about IBMers. IBM needs an employees union. -ANA-
  • Comment 05/14/14:

    Anyone else notice who was noticeably absent from the Z anniversary? Some of our biggest customers were there, but little-ms-Ginny couldn't even be bothered to make a 5 minute video. There's a pretty clear message for you Z folks. Never mind that you've been keeping the bottom line black. :-( -waiting_my_turn-
  • Comment 05/14/14:

    To -15yrsandcounting-: We were called to a conference room years ago and the manager told us we had to claim 15% OT every week on our account, no matter what, and if we didn't do it, it was going to cause us a lot of problems, so just make it happen. It came back to bite them in the AZZ soon after when the OT lawsuit was settled and I got my check, hahahahahah. -Gone_in_07-
  • Comment 05/14/14:

    I was cut from IBM Rochester MN in 2003. I have been working for a insurance company for the last 12 years in Minneapolis MN where they treat everyone like a person and pay way more then IBM. I just found out IBM is trying to get money from our company by claiming we misused license agreements by more than 15 million dollars. We disproved their claims and paid them nothing. This was such a sick desperate attempt to get money from us...so glad I do not work for such a evil sick company/management people anymore. -Roger-
  • Comment 05/14/14:

    I resigned! I would suggest to all the IBMers that can, should. IBM is a huge machine and nothing we have done seems to make a difference. I was in Sales, could have continued working here as long as I kept selling. I could not look a customer in the eye and "sell" them on IBM. Software and Services are great, but the company is horrible to their employees. Unionization is another avenue to pursue, but that is slow in progressing. However you choose to go forward, do it now and do it big. The only way to impact the top leadership is to make them work. No worker bees someone is going to have to step up. -Concerned IBMer- now EX IBMer-
  • Comment 05/15/14:

    My reluctance to accept IBM's current trajectory to 'glory' is primarily because of my opinion and beliefs as follows:
    1. Its long established culture and beliefs are ignored. Its beliefs and by extension its culture was based on:
      • Respect for the Individual.
      • The best customer service in the world.
      • The pursuit of excellence.

      As long as this is being ignored you cannot succeed. In an age of iPads and gizmos, its hard to convince people of intangible things such as justice and fair play and culture.

    2. IBM's culture that made it successful in past years has eroded away since it buys and integrates so many companies at a break neck pace and brings in people that are not compatible with its culture or beliefs that have since eroded away — much like Rome integrating barbaric cultures of the north. Haphazard integration of PWC and its foreign culture was the first mistake — and the beginning of the end of its culture.
    3. Current management is more focused on cloud and flashy gizmos than actually fixing its sick culture.
    4. Management lacks the the type of powerful vision to lead the way the Watsons had done in years past. For what they are paid, they are mediocre at best. I say this because they seem to be chasing markets verses creating them and leading much like TJ Watson Jr. and the S/360 or like Steve Jobs. Current IBM leaders seem to be more reactionary and seem to be chasing whatever bubbles to the top today — and badly that. These are simply my opinions. http://seekingalpha.com/article/2181363-ibms-culture-is-its-best-long-term-investment-metric -Anonymous-
  • Comment 05/15/14:

    In the middle of the second quarter, one of the IBM AMS leaders simply decided to command the entire IBM AMS IT army to go forth with an overall utilization target of 131% for the entire Q2.

    IBM continues to try to meet their goals by specializing in financial engineering, commanding thousands of employees to simply start billing their customers 55 hours per week for the remaining two months of the quarter to achieve that overall 131% Q2 utilization. Don't you think if the work was already there, we would already be doing it in a planned fashion?

    This doesn't get nearly enough attention...salaried workers in the trenches are disgusted, suspect lots of fraud happening to meet billing targets, and the great unsaid — crazy forced, billed 'overtime', but of course that word is never used.

    Utilization targets..."if you don't meet them, may lead to executives re-evaluating headcount". -Phil-

  • Comment 05/15/14:

    Another IBM botch up: Don't blame SAP, blame npower and particularly IBM Global Services. They must hold the record for the most botched implementations in the industry. SAP works. Yes, it can be clunky and awkward at times, but it does work. In the hands of a good implementation team and the proper support, SAP can sing like a bird. There used to be a saying that 'no one ever got fired for hiring IBM'. Lately, that alone should be grounds for termination. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/13/npower_sap_customer_system_failure/ -Foo-
  • Comment 05/15/14:

    Former IBM'er here — regarding CLAIM, I also remember getting strange emails about hours being claimed in my name on projects and clients where I did absolutely no work. I didn't claim the hours myself I just got notified of these claims. I then asked my boss about it and he gave me some strange explanation that "these are just maintenance hours to a customer, don't worry about that" or something like that. I always thought it was strange but I have no proof that anything was wrong.

    On the other hand, I know that for a month or so they charged a client as if I was working full time on the account when I was working only half-time, but that was to cover up the fact I was only working half-time since I had been assigned to a different account also and things were so political and tense it was impossible to back out of either engagement. Of course I got no overtime despite doing twice the work! -Anon-

  • Comment 05/15/14:

    ANA: She had a very hostile attitude and was very very bitter toward older IBMers. <=== Why was she bitter towards older IBMers? Since she is 56 years old, she's part of the club. What's she complaining about? -Old Farts-
  • Comment 05/16/14:

    "If you are uncomfortable with what's going on now in IBM, that's how I want you to stay." Is Ginni crazy or just heartless? This is what a slave owner used to say to their property. -anonymous-
  • Comment 05/16/14:

    -Old Farts- Yep, but why is she so bitter or may I say disgruntled? She might be part of the old club, but she gets full retirement medical for life, executive pension, 401(k), bonuses, top hat SERP, office for life, travel for life, etc. etc. all paid for by IBM mostly as unfunded benefits. We other old farts don't get a smidgen of that. Maybe she is truly DISTRACTED by lack of revenue growth? LOL! -IrritableBowelMovement-
  • Comment 05/17/14:

    The one paragraph in todays Poughkeepsie Journal that is all you need to know: "IBM is going to be using GlobalFoundries in Malta as a foundry going forward," said G. Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research in San Jose, Calif., "and the Fishkill facility is getting long in the tooth. It's now become a fairly old fab. Fabs don't last forever. They do begin to age." The East Fishkill site is toast. All work going to GF in Malta. GF not taking East Fishkill. -The End is near-

IBM Retiree Issues Comments

If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

This site is designed to allow IBM Employees to communicate and share methods of protecting their rights through the establishment of an IBM Employees Labor Union. Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act states it is a violation for Employers to spy on union gatherings, or pretend to spy. For the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act, notice is given that this site and all of its content, messages, communications, or other content is considered to be a union gathering.