Ericsson wants rid of oldies

By offering an incentive of 18 months' salary, start-up funding and career help, Ericsson hopes to persuade 1,000 employees aged 35-50 to quit.

“The offer applies to employees in Sweden in that age group, where we see that we hardly have any personnel turnover at all, about 1%, and so cannot recruit younger, recently-educated engineers,” said Ericsson’s head of personnel, Marita Hellberg, to TT.

Those who decide they want to leave the Swedish telecommunications giant could be entitled to up to 18 months on their current salary and a 50,000 kronor lump sum to start something new. They will also be offered help in finding a new career.

The conditions are that the employee is over the age of 35 and has worked at Ericsson for six years.

“That means we are looking at 17,000 of Ericsson’s 21,000 employees in Sweden,” said Marita Hellberg.

She said she wants to see the move as an opportunity for those who are considering a change but who have not wanted, or dared, to take the plunge.

But it is not certain that everyone who wants to quit will be able to. That will be decided by departmental heads and the company has already identified exceptions.

Employees within Enterprise, Microwave in Gothenburg, Ericsson

Cable or at the platform manufacturing unit in Lund will have to accept that their jobs are safe.

“In Lund we will recruit 130 new staff and others are already and others have already gone through different programmes,” said Hellberg.

As part of major cutbacks a few years ago, most of the older employees left the firm. The new seniors became those born in the 1950s and 1960s.

Previously those born in the 1940s were described as the blockage in the labour chain – now, if the company is to recruit new staff it is the children of the 1960s who must be culled.

At Ericsson in Sweden 6% (1,300 employees) are under the age of 30. 3% (700 employees) are over the age of 58 and over 60% are in the key 35-50 age group.

Ericsson’s managing director Carl-Henric Svanberg recently described the company’s age structure and low staff turnover as a problem and said something had to change. The goal is a staff turnover of around 3% per year.

“This is a strategic decision to make it possible to rejuvenate our staff. Over three years we reckon we can fill the gaps with around 300 new employees a year,” said Marita Hellberg.

The average age of Ericsson’s employees around the world is 38, while in Sweden it is 41.

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