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Different times

  • Unlike a lot of technology companies, Hewlett-Packard wasn't totally run by marketing people. It really respected its engineers...

    As an example of how great a company HP was, consider this. During this time—the early 1970s—the recession was going on and everyone was losing their jobs. Even HP had to cut back 10 percent on its expenses. But instead of laying people off, HP wound up cutting everyone's salary by 10 percent. That way, no one would be left without a job.


    Citations from iWoz
  • 26 Replies sorted by
  • Except that way the whole company gets demoralized instead of the few that got laid off.
  • @brianluce

    You just don't get the point. No one is demoralized. As people are smart and understand the company goals and situation.

  • Well that's a good question, and you might be right V. I don't know. Here's the thing, it's not just about being smart, smart people can extremely selfish. Another thing, suppose you have 30 years as a worker at HP, would you be happy that you have to make the same sacrific the 6 month rookie has to make? Or would you feel your seniority entitled you to a higher degree of security?

  • Another thing, suppose you have 30 years as a worker at HP, would you be happy that you have to make the same sacrific the 6 month rookie has to make?

    I suggest you to read this book , as it has the answer to this question :-)

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev Sorry, I just wanted to make sure I followed correctly. Which book? Is it called "iWoz" or was that the name of the author for the initial quote?

  • @Vitaliy Why would anyone think Steve Wozniak is even remotely qualified to make such a call? He's an engineer. This is a question for psychologists, not computer nerds.

    Maybe he's right, I don't know, but saying Steve Wozniak said it so it must be true isn't convincing.

    I can think of a lot of reasons a 10% across the board pay cut might be demoralizing. For example, it's regressive.

  • A little demoralizing but with likelihood of regaining what you lost at some point in the future... vs no job. Hmm.. hard choice.

  • I think it's absolutely possible that people working for the same company can feel something like solidarity during bad times and that they eventually might even want that 6 month rookie to keep his/her job and to help the company get through tough times - even if it means 10% less money

    EDIT: as long as the company can assure to it's employees that it tries every other way of saving money as well

  • @brianluce

    Why would anyone think Steve Wozniak is even remotely qualified to make such a call

    First, don't get personal.

    but saying Steve Wozniak said it so it must be true isn't convincing.

    Second. I really asked to read it first.

    Third. My opinion about you is really bad now.

  • Paying 10% less to everyone is not just demoralizing but also a no-way route. If you rather let go 10% of people, they can search for different jobs & produce something. This way they would just doing the same, but for less - not really a progress. On the other hand, the remaining 90% will be happy that they still have their job & will increase their productivity because they dont want to be the next one leaving. Company have increased productivity & those who left can do somthing else. Just my 2 cents...

  • @brianluce - I don't know that I disagree about Woz not being a psychologist, he did work at HP and so did a lot of his friends, so I'd think maybe he had some idea of the feeling (better than a random nerd, say). Also, a 10% tax across the board isn't regressive, it's proportional, maybe it could be better than that? That's another issue.

  • It looks like it is time to close topic. As most peoples hands are travelling miles ahead of their thoughts.

    If you rather let go 10% of people, they can search for different jobs & produce something.

    Hmm. I suggest you to look at the second tag of this topic.

    During this time—the early 1970s—the recession was going on and everyone was losing their jobs.

  • @Alfi666 - I think that's a big assumption, it's pretty demoralizing to see your friends and co-workers sacked without any pay cuts and thinking: it might be time I find a better place to work.

  • Trust me, in every company there are people without whom it could run. This way that 90% of people are actually paying for that remaining 10% which would otherwise leave. But this is not the point here. Even if there is no job, people can start to do something - even plant potatoes in the backyard & sell them. Not ideal, true, but keeping doing the same for less is not the right route in my view. Imagine the extreme - company needs to reduce 90% to keep all the jobs. Would they be happy to work for 10%?

  • In my career experience, across-the-board layoffs are far more demoralizing than reductions in compensation. It's rare, however, for salaries to be cut. More often a company will reduce end-of-year bonuses in response to unprofitable market conditions.

  • @Alfi666

    You didn't looked at the tag. It looks like you neved had been in this 10%, and you never had been in the situation you describe.

    people can start to do something - even plant potatoes in the backyard & sell them.

    I did almost exactly this many years ago :-) And can assure you, next time I'll get big shotgun and will find such "smart" manager and his family instead. I learned something.

  • @Vitaliy I'm not trying to make this personal, sorry if you took offense. I don't mean it as a personal attack on you. It's more an attack on Wozniak, for me, he just doesn't seem qualified to make a credible claim like "Look how smart HP is..." I think you're wrong too to argue that the high intelligence equates to some enlightenment in other areas -- like leadership and fairness to name just two things. The reason I say that is I've been reading about the smartest fucker in the world, his IQ is alleged to be over 190! His name is Christopher Langan. You can read about this guy all over the web and one thing is apparent, his intelligence is only exceeded by his arrogance and grandiosity. And another thing about Langan, in his case there seems to be zero correlation between IQ and income potential. It's an interesting moral question though. Which poison is better? And the reason I say the 10% paycut is inherently unfair is that a 50 dollar a day janitor has far less discretionary income than the 5,000 dollar a day VP. He's punished more severely.

  • It's more an attack on Wozniak

    Yep. This is why I called it personal. If you look at background and facts, credibility of Woznyak is about 1e25 times more than yours in this question.

    in his case there seems to be zero correlation between IQ and income potential.

    The thing is that "income potential" is fuckingly bad concept. Last time I checked, none of rich dead motherfuckers could get their income with them.

    He's punished more severely.

    As I wrote previously, he must be glad that he is still alive. Not to cry about his 10% that will force him to buy slightly smaller yaht.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev:

    True, i've never been in such situation. I understand your view if you have been, but then you must accept that your view is affected by this experience.

    I'm noy saying that firing 10% of people is good, but imho certainly better than flat payment reduction.

    I guess this is more of a socialism/capitalism question :)

  • From what I know of Wozniak he was a talented engineer that teamed with Steve J, got rich fast and has been effectively retired since age 30. That's not an impressive resume for a would be social psychologist. And this has nothing to do with me, since I already said you and Wozniak might be right. It's a devil's choice. I just don't think saying something is true because it was said by Wozniak is convincing -- when it's clearly a topic not in Wozniak's wheelhouse. Now, when Wozniak talks about product development that's another story.

  • I guess this is more of a socialism/capitalism question :)

    c'mon...

  • I'm noy saying that firing 10% of people is good, but imho certainly better than flat payment reduction.

    We already got your englightened opinion. Thanks for repeating it.

    I guess this is more of a socialism/capitalism question :)

    Hmm. Does it mean something like "Fuck all this workers, let them grow popatoes, we are for true capitalism?" In this case, I am sure that current politicians have few surprises for you, as they clearly plan to "fuck all this pension and social funds, let all old fucks grow popatoes till death, we are for true capitalism".

    This thing is not capitalism in general. This is called monetary liberalism. In the more common terms, placing wagon (monetery system, banks, insurers) before horse (people and production firms).

  • There's so much more sense in reducing operating costs before head count.

    I work for a large global consultancy in the UK that has its base in capitalist America. However, they are great at handling economic difficulties. During these times, they offer things like:

    • Reduced working weeks, paid prorata
    • Temporary leave up to 3 months, you get 20% pay and full benefits including pension
    • Sabbatical 12-24 months. Unpaid, but continued benefits minus pension

    Not everyone can afford to do the above, but a surprising amount do and it works out win-win for everyone.

    From a business point of view, the key benefits are, that when the market picks back up, we're ready to pounce, rather than scrambling around trying to recruit. It's an uncompetitive strategy letting people go as a first measure.

  • Let me explain to everyone how it's really done here in America. First thing is fire 10% of the workforce. Then a few days later give the remaining employees 10% pay cuts. There. Everyone happy now?

  • @brianluce

    I really like your approach. You always discuss your own ideas :-)