Ageism | IBM may have axed up to 100,000 staff 'to be more trendy'

    IBM may have axed up to 100,000 staff 'to be more trendy'

    Any HR honcho worth their salt will understand the benefit of having a multi-generational workforce.

    From the different levels of experience that they hold, to different cognitions and diversity of thought that will help them understand and satisfy consumer demands, every generation has an assortment of skills to offer a business. When used in tandem, multi-generational workforces have the ability to form an extremely strong workforce that can greatly benefit business.

    Despite this, the computer hardware company IBM has found itself embroiled in the centre of several age discrimination lawsuits which have been logged by former employees.

    According to a Bloomberg report published earlier this week, up to 100,000 employees have allegedly been given the boot – over the last few years - in a bid to give themselves a “cool” and “trendy” identity and to heighten their chances of becoming an attractive workplace for young talent – The Register reported.

    In one case, former HR Vice President at IBM, Alan Wild, explained that the firm had "laid off 50,000 to 100,000 employees in just the last several years,” Bloomberg reported when referring to court documents that were filed earlier in the week.

    When giving evidence in court Wild explained that computer hardware behemoth wanted to prove to the younger generations that the firm wasn’t “an old fuddy duddy organisation” and it had hopes of being viewed as ‘cool and trendy’ after fears grew that they were missing out on emerging talent.

    According to the report, the court filing said: "To do that, IBM set out to slough off large portions of its older workforce using rolling layoffs over the course of several years.”

    When Business Insider probed IBM for a comment, they responded in an email: "We have reinvented IBM in the past five years to target higher value opportunities for our clients."

    IBM also said in the email that it hires 50,000 employees per year and spends billions of dollars on internal training.

    "We also receive more than 8,000 job applications every day, the highest rate that we've ever experienced, so there's clear excitement about IBM's strategy and direction for the future,” the company added.

    While IBM may be inclined to attract young, fresh talent into the business to stay on top of emerging tech and societal changes, one firm that openly speaks about benefitting from a multi-generational workforce is Barclays. The banking behemoth has identified the benefits of accessing different cognitions and alternative ways of thinking as useful for not only future-proofing the business but also for curbing pressing skills gaps.

    According to Barclays UK’s HR Director, Lynne Atkin, older workers bring a whole heap of life experiences, empathy and human skills to the table which Barclays view as an asset to the business. But, that is not to say that the younger generations don’t have a wealth of skills too. She explained that the younger tech-savvy generations can lead Barclays into a strictly digital future and their extensive knowledge of social media and technology is a welcome addition.

    Ultimately, Atkin stressed the importance of workforce diversity. “If you are only fishing from one talent pool – your stereotypical banker - businesses will be severely be missing out on talent and will be unable to train for the skills needed for the future of work with such a narrow cohort of workers,” she concluded.

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    Comments (1)

    • Bronk's Funeral
      Bronk's Funeral
      Thu, 1 Aug 2019 11:41am BST
      How much salt is an HR honcho worth, exactly? Seems to be a common phrase here, and I'd hate to be uninformed on the correct salt/honcho ratio.

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