'Extreme' retention tactics

By David Essex, ITworld.com |  Career

Alcatel's grass-isn't-always-greener reminder

Optical networking vendor Alcatel USA (Plano, Texas) took a more negative approach to
retention last summer when it ran an article in its employee magazine,
Visions, that related horror stories of employees who left for dot-coms, only
to find that lucrative stock options weren't worth long hours and reduced
satisfaction. "The psychological pressure doesn't let up," Michael Zeeff, a 15-year
veteran who eventually returned to Alcatel, was quoted as saying. "In a start-up
company there are fewer people getting the product out the door, so you can never allow
yourself to relax. Even when you are away from work you still feel the unrelenting
pressure."

At about the same time, a company newsletter reported on legal actions by Alcatel
against former employees, noting its increasing use of the "inevitable disclosure"
doctrine to stop them from going to direct competitors. Both articles were ridiculed on
Light Reading (www.lightreading.com), a news site for the optical industry.

Alcatel spokesman Brian Murphy defended the newsletter article as a fair report of
Alcatel's legitimate efforts to protect trade secrets. The dot-com horror stories, he
said, provided useful information that was well-received by employees. "I would say
it's another way to let employees know what the rest of the world is like," Murphy
said. "A lot of people are wondering. I was wondering."

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