Tag Archives: layoff

How to demoralize your employees

My company just make a perfect demonstration on how to demoralize your employees. The economy is bad, everywhere is cutting jobs or costs, our company is the same. However, there are two ways of cost cutting, the smart way or the stupid way. Other than usual cost reduction deals like cut down the travel budget, lay off some employees and box Kleenex, the CEO just inform us there are two unusual cuts. The first cut is the company RRSP contribution, the retire fund, which roughly equal to 5% of pay cut. This one is understandable, we are unhappy about it, but doesn’t cause too much grief. The second cut is like dropping a fire ball into the crowd.

According to BC law, employees who got laid off get about 1 month per year of employment in severance package. It is quite expensive for the company to lay off anyone here. The CEO want us sign a new contract, limiting the severance to 2 weeks per year and capped at 6 months total. The new contract is so far so good if it is given enough incentive. However, the only benefit for signing the new contract is we are allow to keep our stock options, which is worthless anyways. Anyone with a right mind will not sign the contract. You forfeit half of your severance package for virtually nothing!

The new contract on its own is just plain stupid, but the CEO’s Q&A session make it out-outrageous. It is obvious we will ask why should we sign such as stupid contract. The CEO replied that the cost of doing business is too high in Canada. He threaten us that too expensive to lay people off will make the company stop having further investment in Canada. He pull up some statistic citing it is really too expensive. If we read the number, the Canada is about the same as other developed countries, like UK, Germany, France, Japan, the only exception is US. The most outrageous part is that the CEO present it in such a way that if we sign the contract, we will have better job security, but it doesn’t make sense at all. How can you get more job security by making the company easier to lay you off?

I think his threat is just a bluff. The investment decision won’t affect by whether or not we all sign the new contract. The new hire has to sign the new contracts. US is cheaper to lay people off, but more expensive to hire. Most employee in our Silicon Valley office is already laid off. Our cost is still too high comparing to India or China even if we sign the new contract If we are really too expensive, the jobs will go to India or China regardless whether we sign the new contract. Signing the new contract will only the cut happen sooner than later, if the cut is inevitable.

If the company really want us to sign the new contract, they should give us some incentive, say a buy out of $1000 per year of employment. Treating us like idiots and try to use an empty threat to make us sign the new contract really hurt the moral in the company. I guess the lost of productivity is already more expensive than the saving they could even get from the new contract.

Box Kleenex is gone, what’s next?

In a recession market, it is understandable for a company trying its best to cut its budget in order to stay afloat. However, cutting the supply of box Kleenex to the employees is way too cheap. Not only the box Kleenex won’t save the company much money, it also send the wrong signal to the employee. There is a fine line between financial conservative and simply stingy, cutting the box Kleenex definitely had crossed the line.

Now box Kleenex is gone, what’s next? I am pretty sure the company is seriously considering cutting the toilet paper. Maybe that’s why they send us to India, prepare us for a paperless toilet. Instead of having toilet paper in the toilet, they will put a small bucket in each stall like in the Indian office. After you done your business, you can fill up the bucket with water and then use it to clean your bottom. Then maybe they will cut the utensils in cafeteria. Why waste money on plastic forks or money to wash the metal forks. We can eat with our hands too! The only thing that you have to remember is the left hand is the toilet hand, the right hand is the eating hand. Don’t mix up!


There is another round of layoff today in the company. We had already lost track of the number of layoff, it maybe the fifth or the sixth round. It is not affecting the Headquarter in Burnaby at all. Over 60 engineers are let go in the Santa Clara design center, which is over 2/3 of the design team down there. It’s mainly due to the company decided to exit the custom MIPS core business, therefore we no longer need their expertise. We can foresee the closure of that division when we use the licensed core from MIPS instead the custom core in our own product. Upon hearing the news around lunch time, our usual group have a concern on the fate about Suzanne. Lucky that later in the day, she sent an email to all of us saying she is safe. From my experience and what I heard from other companies, it’s always more secure to work in the corporate headquarter or at least the regional main office. Tiny remote sites often become the first victim of downsizing.

project management

In macrosopic level, after the forth round laid off last week and mass exodus followed by the end of ESPP period, the company is in totall disarray. There are many projects seriously under resources and they have to cancell other projects in order to staff them. In microsopic level, after rushed to finish the vector I assignmed to do yesterday, I thought I can catch my breath and take some easy time until the project tape out. Suddenly I got drafted to deal with another road-block vector today. The work should be done 2 weeks ago and everybody simply ignore it until the last minute. When something breaks, they just put more people to rush it throught. What’s the use of the CEO peaching the ideals from “Good to Great”, if everyone underneath is doing otherwise? Sigh… Now I have to work O.T. this sunday.