October 15, 2008 5:31am
Posted in: Company Profile ,High Empathy Companies ,High Empathy Spotlight

Empathy is not a measure of being touchy-feely or affectionate. It’s the ability to step outside yourself and see the world through someone else’s eyes. And by that measure, IBM is one of the most empathic companies we’re aware of. Everyone at IBM knows what’s keeping technology-concerned business people of all stripes, from Chief Innovation Officers to systems administrators, up at night. People at IBM don’t hug their customers a lot, but they deliver them solutions that really work on a regular basis.

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17 Responses to “IBM”

  1.   Ray Says:

    I just cannot let your rating of IBM as a high-empathy company go unchallenged. Although this may be true from the customer’s point of view, as a once-proud former IBM employee I know all too well the days of respect for the individual employee are gone in IBM. Any company which would move work offshore after forcing US-based employees to train their foreign replacements, and then fire the US employee, all in the name of inflating already high profits, does not deserve to be called an empathetic company. I was fortunate to leave on my own terms; many of my friends at IBM, however, were not so lucky, and now find themselves without jobs, unaffordable health insurance, and bleak long-term prospects.

  2.   Ellen Says:

    As an IBM customer, I find IBM worse to deal with every year. Now the “Help” desk is outsourced to badly trained people with scripts. You spend an hour on the phone with someone, attempting to describe your problem. Their scripts don’t cover the issues many times, so they don’t know what to do. “Not relevant” isn’t one of their choices. And many times, their English isn’t good enough to understand when you try to describe the problem. I’ve even found myself spelling the name of the product for them so that they can document the problem.

    The first call back from support is almost always from the wrong division of the company, because the Help Desk can’t even write a meaningful description of the problem.

    Empathy for the customer? All upper management wants is for the customer to hand over money and shut up. It’s a slap in the face to all of their great employees who built a fabulous company, and have to watch it go down the tubes.

  3.   Steve Says:

    Being a current employee, I can’t but challenge your rating also. We’re kept in the dark when layoffs occur, typically finding out through the news media. Managers don’t talk about who is being let go, people just aren’t at their desk the next day. There is no empathy shown by management or the higher levels of management in this company. How can you say that IBM is one of the top empathetic companies? You need to work there first.

  4.   Tom Watson Says:

    It seems the myth of IBM being a good employer continues. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fear and lack of respect rule the day inside IBM. Longtime loyal employees are being thrown in the trash in favor of offshoring and the bringing in of low cost foreign labor to work on US accounts.
    Read the employee view at http://www.allianceibm.org

  5.   Son_of_SAM Says:


  6.   Joe Hill Says:

    IBM is a good company to work for. I’ve been there 28 years. The work is interesting and the hours mostly reasonable. My job lets me pretty much set my own hours and management is pretty willing to let workers telecommute. If I have personal business during the day, management doesn’t give me any grief about taking the time I need. Pay is good and benefits are reasonable.

  7.   Bits Says:

    I agree with Ellen above – IBM will do everything it can, including unethical cheating on contracts to wring profits out of their clients and customers. There have been countless accounts where support moved offshore without notification and concurrence of the customer while IBM hasn’t passed the cost savings on to the customer.

    You cannot trust IBM period – you must carefully review your contracts and be prepared at every step to enforce the contract.

    As for employees, IBM treats its employees like trash – it overworks them, invests as little as possible in them, then dumps them like garbage. Experience and skills no longer matter, all that matters is cheap and making those quarterly financial targets.

    A company cannot be a long term success when the leadership focuses solely on managing the short term stock price.

    Wired to care implies that you are managing to be around long enough to be able to care about your customers in the future – which IBM is not.

  8.   John_S Says:

    IBM is NOT empathetic to it’s employees. The only thing IBM and it’s executives care about is the stock price.

    They layoff and ship jobs out of the country, lock down internal jobs while they lay-off then state “you have 30 days to find a job internally”.

    They take US stimulus money and employ foreign workers to do the work.

    They never give raises while stating publicly they do, and expect you to live, breath, and bleed IBM Blue while stabbing you in the back, cutting your departments funding and planning to offshore your job.

    You should be embarrassed to even post them on the page much less as the most empathetic.

  9.   AnonRTP Says:

    I worked for IBM for 15 years. I am PMP certified,
    IBM certified, and other technical certifications. I am young
    and much fire left. However, on Black Thursday I was let
    go along with my other counterparts in RTP, NC. I really
    was not making that much money so it must have been an
    issue with not sucking up to the manager? I worked 12 hour days …
    9 to midnight every night after my children went to bed.

    The money/benefits was nice for 15 years, but the company
    sucks. We treated our customers like crap… and since the technical folks are overworked now, you will only get your issues fixed if you jump up and down the highest.

    GTH IBM !

  10.   Hegedus Says:

    I and so many thousands of others in the US worked for this lousy company. Our jobs have been shipped overseas, lives have been ruined, families have been stressed. When I worked there like everybody else, we were over worked, on call, carried pagers, woke up in the middle of the night, worked holidays, all for free. In the midst of the worst economy in decades IBM continues to fire American workers, send their jobs to India, and give the executives huge bonuses and pay raises. IBM is the worst place I have ever worked and I’m glad to be out of there.

  11.   anoneemus Says:

    Who comes up with these things? IBM is anything but empathetic to their employees – see the examples below.

    “Your job is moving to a GDF, you have 60 days to decide if you’re going to up-root your family, and move across the country in this economy. And no, IBM will no provide relocation expenses. If you decide not to move, you have just voluntarily resigned”.

    “You’re a top contributor – here’s your 1% raise”

    “IBM will no longer pay for Work-At-Home employees’ internet access” (IBM used to pay up to $50/month for internet access expenses for employees who work from home)

    Oh, did I mention the fact they have FIRED (it’s not a lay off, IBM has no intention of hiring them back) 10K US employees (more, actually) and moved a majority of their jobs offshore? And they have balls to rake in stimulus money? And tell Obama they are *creating* jobs?!?

    IBM is one of the WORST companies to work for right now.

    See http://www.allianceibm.org for more details.

  12.   WMF Says:

    I can’t help but refute your rating of IBM as Empathetic. I worked for IBM until I was laid off in 2007. I’ve seen this company, with no feeling for the individual, lay off many highly qualified people for nothing more than to increase the profits of the company and the people at the top. Evidently, they can’t “step outside themselves and see the world through someone else’s eyes”, otherwise, they would have more respect for their own workers. When laid off, they tell you that you have 30 days to find a job within the company to avert the layoff, but the jobs that were open only a week before are mysteriously no longer open and managers from other departments that do make an offer of a job mysteriously pull that offer from the table. In addition, I’ve seen instances where IBM has charged its customers for overtime that its employees were forced to work whether or not it was required. IBM empathetic, NO, pitiful, YES.

  13.   ALR Says:

    What???? You’ve GOT to be kidding. Reality is a far different picture. There are a lot of adjectives that describe IBM – and empathetic isn’t one of them.

  14.   FiredIn09 Says:

    IBM has no empathy, only thing the execs care about are themselves and how much of a bonus they can get … and they will do anything to get it. I was let go after 18 years, after they announce they had a great year (guess they needed to shed more jobs to increase the quarterly numbers so the execs can get paid) … worked hard, always on a contract , never on the bench … but I guess I was too old for them to keep around … fortunately, I landed a better job at a better company … hate that I wasted so many years with a company as sorry as IBM.

  15.   LTR Says:

    I am completely shocked to find out that IBM has a high empathy rating. IBM was the absolute worst company I have ever worked for (and that’s out of 7 companies.) Their policies aimed at the common worker are atrocious and during my two years there, I felt like a prisoner. I know that I speak for many others as well.

    The workload was impossible because people were let go so often and there was no one around to do the work that was left over. So, their work was heaped on the backs of the rest of us (we were already way overburdened.) Layoffs and offshoring happen almost monthly and you never know if you will be a target. So, everyone is always fearful even though IBM comes out with high earnings reports every quarter. It’s obvious that upper management only cares about rewarding the CEO and his cronies who make millions and millions of dollars a year. I think of all of my laid off colleagues who were excellent workers and see how they struggle now. It disgusts me.

    A focus on quality for the customer was thrown out the window and has been for some time. Strict deadlines are enforced for all projects, without any attention given to the high incidence of issues. It was more important to get products to market quickly so that high earnings could be reported each quarter. No care was given in actually releasing and supporting high quality products that helped our customers. As a result, we lost many clients and negative feedback went through the roof. This is still happening.

    One of the worst aspects of employment there is the PBC system (personal business commitments.) It is a rating system used by management to “clean out” the ranks on a consistent basis. People are always in fear of losing their jobs because no one knows how they will be rated and there is little that they can do to change a rating. Ratings are assigned in a secret meeting at the beginning of each year (for management only), even though PBC ratings aren’t given to employees until December of the same year. So, you can’t really do anything to change a rank that was already given to you (and that you don’t know about.) Ratings are subjective and are not based on defined goals. In the secret ranking meeting, managers duke it out amongst themselves regarding which employees get which ratings. These are the same managers that might not even know much about you besides what they hear from a once a month status meeting. Micromanaging is an art form at IBM and most people spend almost 50% of their time trying to justify why IBM should not lay them off. A lot of attention is given to people who are very vocal about projects and initiatives that they are involved with. That doesn’t mean that they are actually doing any work though. I had the unfortunate experience of working with someone who was like this and while I was working 60 hours a week for months in order to get a project finished, she was talking it up with upper management and coming up with business ideas that never came into fruition. From what I’ve heard this is a common occurrence among teams. I didn’t have much of a choice. My manager told me that it was EXPECTED that I work more than 40 hours in order to finish the project. In the end, I wasn’t rated very high because it looked like I wasn’t coming up with fresh new ideas for the business like my colleague was. I was too busy doing the actual work. I was never recognized for all of my efforts and I got a performance rating that put my job in jeopardy. Thankfully, I found a new job before anything could happen. Finding a new job at another company was the best thing I have ever done. It was wonderful to find out that there ARE ethical companies still out there. Working at IBM was the most awful experience I have ever had in my professional career.

  16.   FormerEmployee Says:

    You have got to be kidding. Where did this empathy rating originally come from? Having been in and around IBM for 25 years I have seen the changes and while this rating would have been deserved 25 years ago it is a different company for the last 10-15 years. I personally think that the current company will be hit hard in the next few years. China and India are taking advantage of the mismanagement of IBM and when they are fully trained, IBM will be a ghost in those countries. Today the company is just a shell.

  17.   Jack Says:

    IBM treats its customers horribly. IBMer’s deliver “standardized” solutions that never take into account the unique business environment that a customer operates in. I have witnessed Client Executives actually tell a customer that they will not implement a service in a certain way requested by the customer because IBM is “Bigger than x Company”). Statements such as these would acceptable if IBM was the low cost leader in the market for providing technology services, but the truth of the matter is IBM is not the low cost leader …not even close.

    If your company is currently receiving a bid from IBM, be sure to check references from their other accounts. They will be hard pressed to find you any references which speak highly of IBM. That’s because IBM doesn’t provide respect to its customers after the initial contract is signed.