In a bit that could be described as "news of the weird," the press got a hold of an email from Yahoo!
Scrooge may have showed off his tightwad ways by having Bob Cratchit work in chilly offices on Christmas Eve in A Christmas Carol, but there's something more than a little bit cheap about Yahoo!'s holiday idea, too. It seems this will not only force employees to use a week of vacation time whether they planned to or not, but it will also save Yahoo! money not to have to use heat or lights in its office during that week.
It's tempting to ask, Are things that bad at Yahoo! that it has to pinch pennies this way? A Yahoo! spokesperson apparently contacted by the AP affirmed the authenticity of the email and dismissed the monetary savings as "minimal." And of course, minimal savings certainly aren't going to help Yahoo! buy a company like Facebook, which was the big rumor recently.
So, why would Yahoo! bother to do such a thing, right after it warned that its third quarter was going to be rough because of a recent slowdown in ad revenues in certain categories? All I can say is it's a mystery. The AP reported that the Yahoo! spokesperson said that the mandatory break will give employees a chance to "recharge their batteries," and while time off is healthy for workers, I can't say telling them when to do so and on their own dime sounds like it's in the right spirit.
Granted, I've done my time during that week-long lull between Christmas and New Year's at many jobs, and I admit it's usually pretty dead since so many people do take that time for recharging, not to mention revelry. However, it seems to me that most companies realize that slow that it may be, the show must go on, even with a skeleton crew of employees who are willing to hold down the fort.
Yahoo! is a strong company in many ways, and I've often defended it as one that has many competitive strengths to give it security against rivals like Google
Regardless, this is one of those news items that jars sensibilities. Forced vacation sounds to me like something you might expect from a slow-growth, old-school company -- not a hard-driving, innovating Internet firm. (And while there are definitely "use it or lose it" policies at year-end at many companies, shutting down and cutting power seems like a pretty unusual variation.) Investors like it when companies show prudence in reducing their expenses, but this move sounds a little like the Grinch is coming to town this holiday season.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.