Back in the day, IBM had a policy to never lay-off any employees. If you were loyal to the company then you had a job for life. Thus, the loyalty went both ways. If you talk to employees that worked for Silicon Valley’s IBM campus back then, they will confirm all this.
They will also tell you during the Dot Com days that startup companies were busy trying to recruit the top IBM employees. However, if you quit IBM and went to work for one of these startups and it failed, IBM would never hire you back. You were literally blacklisted.
But, on the other hand if you were loyal to IBM, you could retire a wealthy individual, yes you had to work hard during your working years, but you’d be set up for life. That was the IBM way. If this topic interests you, or that level of corporate commitment to the employees is something that fascinates you, then I’d like to recommend a very good book to you. It is a book that I’ve read myself, and it maintains a space in my personal library at home. The name of the book is;
“The IBM Lesson; The Profitable Art of Full Employment,” by D. Quinn Mills, Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 1988, (216 pp), ISBN: 978-081291-690-4.
There were no layoffs and IBM that was a guarantee during the time this book was written. And in this book the author explains the brilliance behind the way IBM operated and there are several case studies in the book about how it went about making sure it took care of its employees, including one in Boulder Colorado where IBM was upgrading its plant. You see, at the time floppy disks were in season, and IBM owned that market. When it went to upgrade the plant, it did not lay off the employees, it reassigned them.
Some employees were given a substantial package to retire, others were temporarily re-assigned until the factory was re-commissioned and upgraded. Their jobs were secure and guaranteed. IBM never kept any secrets from its employees, and it always gave them the information and would never assume that they knew what was going on. In fact, it kept giving them information until the employees asked them to stop.
As markets shifted, and computer technology evolved, so did IBM, and so did all their employees. If IBM had to close a plant, they would donate the old building to the local city; they would pay for homes for their employees to move. Once when they did a move the town’s economy collapsed, so they bought the employees homes. IBM was not only a great corporate citizen, but they went out of their way to do the right thing.
Like no other IBM maintained a great reputation for this attitude, not only with their employees but every single community they went to. In fact, communities across the United States; cities, towns, and economic development associations worked like hell to recruit IBM’s business units into their area. IBM knew that closing plants was more difficult than reconditioning them. And it did everything it could to make good decisions for its bottom line, but also to take care of the community, its employees, and even often its vendors at all times.
IBM seemed to have a motto; “Treat your employees right and they will treat you to profits.” And they quickly learned that people generate more ideas when you are flexible with your employees. Indeed, I’m going to have to recommend this book to you, because IBM had a belief back then, one that we don’t see today but it would be quite refreshing to see more of it in the present period. Please consider all this.