Ibm: Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry?

It doesn't pay to stay. That's the message IBM employees are expected to get soon from on high, say Big Blue insiders. IBM has almost halved its workforce since 1986 through buyouts (mostly) and layoffs. But the enticements to quit or retire have been growing steadily less attractive. Until July, 1993, an IBMer could leave with up to a year's pay; today, it's a max of 26 weeks.

The company's next effort to trim the ranks through voluntary departures, which could come as soon as late September, is likely to be based on making continued service even less appealing. Fears among the rank and file are that early retirement, for those with enough time in, may jump from age 55 to 62. Another possibility: rejiggering the pension formula to make high-income years count for less. The company declines to comment on its plans.

The reason for the changes is that IBM says it may not get the workforce down to its goal of 215,000 by yearend. Current nose count is 230,000, although cost-cutting moves outside the payroll area are ahead of schedule.

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