Headcount Tactics

Teams at a large bank face a yearly ritual called ‘the headcount challenge’.  In simple terms, the ritual involves the head of HR handing out new headcount targets to each division on the basis of cost reductions.  The joke is of course that no manager can actually do anything: it is impossible to fire people or to move people around due to poor relations with social partners and the extremely rigid organizational structure put in place at the company.

Nevertheless, one team has found a creative way out of the conundrum.


Headcount targets are calculated each year from the first to the last calendar day.  Faced with a 10% reduction challenge, the team take jointly a sabbatical month in December, effectively lowering the end of year headcount.  Since they return at the beginning of the year the yearly challenge can be easily re-achieved by the same principle every year.

Last year the whole team got a bonus for overachieving the target and delivering more successful new products than any other.  The reason is simple: the team invested their capacity into innovation.

www.managing-spaghetti.com. This is satire; nothing here is true.

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