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This morning’s newsflash was inspired by tweet and refers to the recent Tech layoffs in Silicon Valley, no longer deemed the greatest place to work in Tech. Other posts tell stories of employees disappointed that they can no longer indulge in free pizza in the cafeteria before going to meetings in the “confetti room”. In short, it all sounds like a love story gone wrong. The main question emphasised by one of the sources I read this morning: is coddling your employees a good idea?
First in the 1990s (the great IT crisis), then in the 2000s (the Internet bubble).
These periods are engraved in my memory. No doubt the big IT company I worked for in the 90s was not as “cool” as Meta or Google, but we were fond of it and rightly so.
We learned a lot over there, roamed the world and the work was creative and exciting. A whole new era of work was then invented. Certainly much more creative than selling CPCs for a search engine.
I was caught off guard in those years and for good reason. As a newcomer to the world of IT, coming from the ill-fated household appliance industry, the future was bright. “This is the industry of the future,” I was told.
And it was true, real-time computing changed the lives of all employees worldwide, not just a few. The same is probably true of the technologies developed in Silicon Valley.
Nonetheless, I have seen all the big tech companies disappear: DEC, Control Data, Data General, ICL, Compaq and so on.
In 2001-2 a new purge was on its way, but this time I wasn’t taken unawares. In a few months, the work of 4 years was kicked to the curb. A colleague came with a van to put the servers in the boot. A nuclear IT winter began.
There is no doubt that the approach to work in these modern tech companies and what we knew in the prehistoric times of the beginning of real-time computing have nothing in common.
In those days, there was no entertainment, no candy, no confetti room, and even less TikTok to post videos of your workplace.
It’s true that I don’t eat sweets, I watch my weight and I haven’t played table football since I left school.
I recommend Marketplace‘s post on the subject which made me think about this situation. Certainly, there is a situation that seems unfair and even incomprehensible. The current period has nothing to do with the great Internet crisis of the 2000s.
There is no collapse, no reversal of fortunes and even some of the companies that are being thrashed on the stock market are growing by… 12% (unbelievable but true).
So, there is something seemingly irrational about this (here’s the explanation).
But beyond these sad facts, the questions posed by the Marketplace article are worthy of note.
“I’m not rooting for anyone to lose their jobs. But I think there’s a big reckoning happening right now with employee expectations,” said Nolan Church, who is now a tech recruiting consultant and previously worked with DoorDash and Google.
Over the last decade, he said, there was a combination of easy money and hard-to-find talent in tech. That spurred a kind of arms race to be known as the best place to work. “But in hindsight, this created a generation of employees who expect to be coddled,” he added. “Now, employees are candidly shocked that their jobs are no longer safe, that the perks and amenities that they once had are evaporating quite fast.” [Source]
I always wondered about these “great places to work”, because every time I saw the label awarded I wondered what was behind it.
Since I have been self-employed, I no longer wonder whether my job will be cut. Strangely enough, I have zero job security and I’ve never felt more secure.
Maybe because I can only count on myself to get out of difficult situations when there are any.
Being “coddled” may not protect, it may even make you more vulnerable.
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