Well, THAT worked out well, don'cha think?

It's the run-up to Y2K, and this big life insurance company has come up with a bright idea for keeping future IT costs down, reports a pilot fish there: Lay off 10 percent of the IT staff every decade.

"After all, there's nothing more likely to keep current employees in line than seeing these folks shambling around like zombies for the six-week transition period, followed by the tales of woe once they left," fish says.

"So, with that idea in mind, the company proceeded with its cost-savings plan, and 10 percent of employees were laid off."

But things don't go quite according to plan. For one thing, because those 10-percenters get six weeks of paid job-hunting, they all manage to find new positions well before the clock runs out.

And instead of tales of woe from the departed, word coming back through the grapevine is that salaries outside the insurance company are a lot better -- double or triple what the insurance company is paying.

In fact, the 10-percenters are doing so well that the headhunters who have placed some of them decide it's open season on the best of the the insurance company's IT staff -- and the 10-percent staff reduction doesn't remain 10 percent for long.

In the end, it's around 60 percent. Which means lots of green replacements have to be hired quickly -- and hired at market rates, which means about double what the insurance company was paying the original employees.

"Interestingly, management blamed the original 10-percenters for the fallout from the layoffs," says fish. "When one of them was brought on as a consultant for Y2K, she was escorted out of the building when a manager recognized her.

"Also, one of the remaining employees, working on a web project, was threatened with firing for having an inappropriate book on his desk. It was an AJAX book written by one of the laid-off former employees."

Sharky doesn't need a whole book from you -- just your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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