THE magic word in business these days is "buyout." xTC Companies are feverishly offering their employees buyout contracts so that they will leave and reduce the work force of the institution. More money is being made from buying out employees than there is from manufacturing a product.
The great success story of the buyout strategy is the Lean and Mean Screwdriver Company. The buyout vice president is Warren Tenderloin. When I arrived he was sitting at a card table in front of the main gate of his factory with a stack of bills in front of him. There was a line of people as far as the eye could see. Warren was counting out the bills and shaking hands with each (( person.
"Originally we intended to buy out 5,000 workers, but 25,000 told us they would accept our offer."
"It sounds like a lot of people," I said.
"That's the idea. The more staff we can lay off, the more favorably Wall Street views us, and the more our stock goes up. Our profits now come from the number of people we can buy out rather than from making screwdrivers."
Warren kept talking and counting out bills.
"How do you do it?"
"Our company is considered the best-managed in America because we have eliminated the one thing that business doesn't need -- workers."
"Will you ever reach a point where you won't be able to make screwdrivers because no one is left?"
"There's always that possibility, but management can't worry about little details. Our main concern is to stop a waste in our manpower. If we can't make screwdrivers here, then we'll make them in Istanbul."
"I'm curious. Why do you think so many people have accepted the buyout?"
Warren replied, "Because the workers figure that they will be laid off anyway, so they might as well get a few bucks out of it. I'm considering taking the buyout myself as soon as I pay everyone else off."
At that moment a very nattily dressed man came up to the table. "Hello, Warren, would you please pay me?"
Warren counted out the cash. Then he turned to me and said, "That was the chairman of the board. He's cashing in on his own buyout. If he wants to leave, things must be really bad."
I suggested, "Perhaps you ought to take your buyout before it's too late."
"I can't. I still have 21,000 people to pay off." The line kept moving.
Another man arrived and said, "I would like to purchase a gross of screwdrivers for my hardware store."
Warren told him, "You've been waiting in the wrong line. But since you're here, how would you like a buyout of your store? We'll give you $10 for every week that you've worked there."
"I don't want a buyout -- I want screwdrivers."
"Go in the factory and help yourself. Nobody's there."