The world’s tech titans are having panic attacks: It turns out that those Millennials and Gen-Z’ers who provide the infrastructure that makes our Internet and social media work don’t want to work too hard.
It’s a rude awakening for the woke tech cognoscenti who long showered their beloved employees with lots of love — unlimited sick days, flexible work-from-home rules, ping-pong in the office, craft beers and the like.
When times were flush, it just wasn’t that easy finding college grads who can write endless amounts of code and siphon all that user information from customer accounts that generated all those profits.
The tech gravy train is now suffering from a serious bout of recession-induced panic. Profits are falling and so are stock valuations of what was once the most valuable piece of Corporate America. The dudes who run our tech industry are looking for ways to make up the difference, discovering that those pampered brats are a pretty unproductive and increasingly unaffordable lot as times get tough.
That’s why the normally flaccid Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed a trace of testosterone-fueled anger during a company-wide town hall last month. An employee asked about extended vacation time as Facebook (now formally called Meta for reasons no one can fathom) was preparing to announce weak ads sales, lower earnings and cratering revenues.
“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg snapped.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was a bit more diplomatic, in a techie and creative kind of way. He recently told employees he’s creating a weird initiative called “Simplicity Sprint” to cut costs as Google suffers declines in profits and stock price. Employees are being asked how to make Google more productive because “it’s clear we are facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead,” he said, according to CNBC.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to conclude Pichai is basically asking employees how he and his team can weed out their unproductive colleagues.
Can’t wait to hear their thoughts.
Back in the day, CEOs seemed to take perverse delight in slicing layers of management off their balance sheets because investors liked decisive action (think “Neutron Jack Welch, the former GE chief, or Morgan Stanley’s legendary CEO John “Mack the Knife” Mack) .
Welch once told me no one at GE during his years was ever surprised when the ax fell because he imposed such a strict performance discipline. There also wasn’t a lot of time for ping-pong and craft-beer breaks when Mack ran Morgan Stanley with his very iron fist.
In our politically correct times, CEOs tried to make workers feel like they are doing something special, like saving the Earth. Never mind the real job was finding new and innovative ways to squeeze personal information from consumers so they could sell more ads.
Now the charade is over. Tech executives could peddle higher purposes (“don’t be evil”) and free meals when the times were good. But those CEOs now need workers to be productive no matter how much they were programmed to be lazy.
“I think the CEOs are really worried now that lackluster performance of many of the tech firms may be the result of structural issues that they are having with their business models,” veteran recruiter Gary Goldstein of the Whitney Group tells Fox Business’s Eleanor Terrett. “I think employees have become less efficient as a result of not having that discipline.”
Or maybe too many just like being lazy. Where’s Neutron Jack and Mack the Knife when you need them?