5 Tactics CEOs Use to Squeeze Labor Like A Stone
Some people, for whatever inexplicable reason, hold CEOs in high regard. I don’t know if it’s a form of capitalistic hero worship, brainwashing or just the preponderance of good old-fashioned saps, but they exist. If you doubt it, try tweeting anything negative about a “job creator” and see how many soon-to-be failed entrepreneurs with sunglass-and-cigared avatars come swooping in to tell you to go back to the fields.
An important thing to remember about CEOs and their executives, especially ones with direct input over the quantity and continued issuance of your paycheck, is that their ultimate goal is profit. Us poor, inefficient monkeys that eat, sleep and have anxiety attacks are no bueno for that. No matter how friendly they are to you at company mixers, a dip in stock prices and you’ll be overboard faster than a heavy cooler on a fleeing cigarette boat. Of course, they still want to seem like they consider the human condition, so sometimes they have to go about trimming the fat in the sneakiest possible ways.
Here are five ways CEOs and their executives squeeze labor like a stone…
The possibly heavily exaggerated trend of quiet quitting has executives loudly harrumphing like Ebenezer Scrooge shitting out a Christmas goose. It turns out this is far from the only “quiet” tactic that’s cropping up. Another phrase that’s started to gain traction is the idea of “quiet hiring,” which I’ll admit, on its face, sounds hugely confusing. What do you do, trick someone into thinking data entry is a puzzle in some sort of labor-based Ender’s Game situation?
It’s all a little more sinister and involves sideways movement rather than actual hiring. It’s more about filling new positions by splitting them up and sneaking them into existing employee’s day-to-day work, like hiding a bit of medicine in another, bigger bit of medicine someone’s already required to take. If you’ve ever heard someone say, as I have, “in a way, customer service is a kind of community management,” you know how quickly you can find yourself sitting in the same seat, but doing a very different job. One that usually sucks. If you’re wondering if your salary is going to increase along with the new responsibilities, I hope you enjoyed your first birthday, which I assume was yesterday.
Two devastating practices having fun, rhyming names is so poetically perfect for the world of high-level executive bullshit. If you ever hear your boss pitching a new corporate strategy with a fun, rhyming name, start screenshotting your emails and canceling unnecessary subscriptions, because there’s a good chance you’re going to be eating beans for dinner soon. Sure, you might get severance, as long as you fulfill one main condition: that there is no way for them to possibly legally deny you severance.
That’s what “quiet firing” revolves around. Firing an employee is, bottom-line-wise, a jackpot. Their salary is immediately reabsorbed into the budget, the kind of windfall that it might usually take an actual, shrewd business move to achieve. Unless severance greedily swallows some of that sweet reclamation. So what do you do? Well, you just sort of gently extricate that person from any meaningful or rewarding work until they’re dangling from the day-to-day like a dingleberry and feeling, rightfully, completely unfulfilled and uninvolved. A mental tax that hopefully, gets them to quit on their own, at which point you can deny severance, saying, “Hey, we were happy to have you! You’re the one who decided you didn’t want to work here anymore!”
Performance Improvement Plans
We continue to find that employment termination is a highly efficient way to get your books in balance — but again, only if you’re able to dance neatly around the things the government tries to provide for the recently unemployed. Another box you don’t want to find yourself in, in terms of receiving compensation, is being fired for cause. Something that no company wants to do without proper documentation shielding themselves.
So what are they to do if you’re not mentally unwell enough to throw a burrito at the wall in clear view of security cameras? They have to create that documentation, and one popular way to build that stack of papers is through “Performance Improvement Plans.” These are usually presented as an olive branch, which can be surprising, especially if you’ve never had any complaints about your performance previously. Sure, maybe that’s the reality, and you’re simply not very perceptive about everyone being angry at you. The question is whether you’re actually being given some hands-on help, or if it’s just in pursuit of a paper trail showing a fuck-up worth booting you over.
Forcing Out Older Employees
Of course, there are employees who are great at their job, that companies truly do want to keep around. In order to do that, you’re going to have to hand out a couple raises as the years go by. That way, you can keep that great employee around for the long run, as a staple of your company. Unfortunately, as your salary balloons, it’s both a signal that you’re a valuable part of “what we do here” and also makes you a more and more toothsome slice of financial pie to be separated.
Work there long enough and you age into a protected class of workers of over 40, making your removal equivalent to trying to bring down a prize buck that can only be legally hunted on about 10 square feet of land. You could retire, except that retirement is now basically an antiquated tale on par with Nessie him or herself. Plus, now your inability to retire is a pesky tumor on the business ledger! So, they very well may engage in myriad methods meant to break your brittle, elder spirit.
I Mean, Practically Everything\
I can pick and choose a couple numbers here, sure. Remember, though, that squeezing every single cent out of a business is literally a CEO’s job. Enjoy the ping-pong tables and cold-brew, but stay vigilant, little worker bees. The days are gone when you’ll spend your latter days fishing off the pier with an engraved gold watch.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.