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News You Can Use
By David Bachelor, PhD
Radio commentator Paul Harvey was famous for his show, “The Rest of the Story,” where he provided overlooked information to many of the stories making headlines. If Paul Harvey were still alive, he would almost certainly have done an episode on one story making headlines around the world. The headlines proclaim that tech workers are being furloughed on a global scale. News reports say Meta, Microsoft and Twitter are part of a movement that has given pink slips to 275,000 workers. Using Mr. Harvey’s famous catch phrase, “And now for the rest of the story…”
An April 7th headline in the financial journal MarketWatch.com declares, “Tech Companies Are Hiring – A Lot – Despite Recent Wave of Layoffs.” The article says that the focus on the tech giants has overshadowed the expansion underway in owner/operator-sized businesses. As one analyst notes, “Tech services, dominated by small and midsize companies, have filled the gap in hiring.” These companies have created 197,000 new tech jobs since the new year.
On the same day as the MarketWatch story, British banking technology website FinTech Futures had the headline, “Demand for Tech Workers Is Strong, Putting Employees in the Driving Seat.” Acknowledging the spate of tech layoffs, this article notes a recent survey conducted by Manpower Group which found, “IT and tech businesses across the UK plan on increasing their collective headcount by 49% overall.” Business-to-business IT services are responsible for this hiring campaign.
Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal included the story, “These Tech Workers Say They Were Hired to Do Nothing.” The article’s subtitle said, “Amid layoffs, former workers in tech are venting about jobs with little to do; ‘hoarding us like Pokémon cards’.” The tech experts consulted by the article named the culprit for this ‘hoarding’ as the surplus income brought on by the pandemic. This windfall allowed businesses to hire “ahead of demand.” The surplus of workers created a sloppy culture where, as one veteran tech worker complained, “20% of employees did 80% of the work, while their peers did on-site yoga and took long lunches.” In response, some tech workers have taken jobs in smaller companies with more accountability.
In Matthew 20, Jesus told a parable about an employer who had unbalanced hiring practices. This employer hired a bunch of workers at dawn and promised them the current daily wage. Three hours later the employer hired more workers and told them they would get paid fairly. The employer repeated this process every few hours. The last group hired was just before quitting time. When the day was over, everyone lined up to be paid in the reverse order of how they were hired. The one-hour crew received the going rate for a whole day’s labor. This made the dawn-hires think they were going to get the daily rate with a bonus. Instead, everyone got the same paycheck. The dawn-hires complained, “The last people hired have done only one hour’s work, and you have made them equal to us, who have worked all day and sweated to do the hard stuff” (Matt 20:12). The employer reminded these workers they had agreed to a contract, and he, as the business owner, could do what he wanted with his stuff (Matt 20:13-14). Jesus used this parable to inform believers that life-long Christians and people who converted on their deathbed would get the same heavenly reward.
The demand for tech workers in the middle of industry layoffs is good news. The layoffs should not have surprised anyone who was aware there was not enough work to justify the excess staffing levels. God is the only “employer” who can tolerate surplus workers. In fact, in the Church there is no such thing too few workers. Jesus used an analogy from agriculture to teach this lesson to his disciples: “There are fields full of grain but there are not enough people to harvest it. Pray like crazy to the Lord of the harvest, that He may send out workers to bring in His grain.” (Matt 9:37-38).