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Help Unwanted

August 21, 2013

Ah, the travails of getting people to actually leave the company

A New York Times report detailed the experience of 51-year-old Sony employee Shusaku Tani who refused to take early retirement after his position at the Sony Sendai Technology Center was eliminated.

With no job left for Tani and others like him at the firm, Sony decided to put them in an oidashibeya – which can be translated as “forcing-out room” or less accurately “boredom room”.

Here he apparently browses the web and reads books all day before preparing a daily report on his activities and leaving for home.

I hope that nobody’s shocked at something like this.  I can still remember the stories over two decades ago at one company where I was interning.  When they wanted someone to stop being a meaningful contributor, they would shuffle them over to a certain portion of the lab, move their desk to the back edge upstairs, and then cut their budget.  This would result in the people sitting alone in the lab forlornly working on the same board year after year, and not able to go do new things.  This is a tried and true way to get people out the door, if you ask me.

The article has comments about this being the way of life in Japan due to employment policies.  It’s probably really more culture, but sure.  Europe is very similar.  In some countries there, it can take three years to fire someone.  It’s easier to just shuffle them aside and let them figure it out.

So how long before this becomes the way of life in the US?  Well, as above, it started a while ago.  But I would expect to see more “opportunity” for certain types of people moving forward.  The US, at least the tech part of the US, is likely underserved for capable employees, so it’s not like most companies will go out of the way to just throw them out.  Look at Yahoo.  Marisa Mayer looked at the unproductive employees working from home and made them come in , so it would have to be obvious to everyone how little work they were doing.

I have to go, I hear they’re going to give me a new cube today… hey, wait!

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