Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, has announced that the company will not be laying off any of its staff nor will they be asking them to accept pay cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they are taking the opposite route and giving raises to all of its employees to provide additional financial security during the crisis. In a letter to employees, Jensen writes:
“In response to the falling economy, we announced that we are pulling in our annual review process. Immediately I received questions about whether we are also planning a layoff. NO — precisely the opposite. We are accelerating your raise to put some extra money in your hands. we can put tens of millions more dollars in the hands of our families in the coming months. There is no layoff. The work we do in graphics, science, AI, and robotics is more vital to the future than ever.”
While this very generous attitude is something that most would like to see from companies, not all organisations are in apposition to do the same. Smaller businesses such as SMEs cannot afford to take such measures. However, similar action on the part of those that can would help alleviate the tremendous financial pressure that the COVID-19 induced business stagnation has caused.
Nvidia is in a much better position to pull off such a move; especially since the sales of office equipment and computers have spiked since the epidemic began, as people bought hardware to enable them to work from home. Additionally, so much computing power is being dedicated to the study and analysis of this new coronavirus. While not all of this data will prove useful, the experience of pivoting so much computational power to the study of a single topic in such a short time certainly will.
Nvidia’s attitude towards the crisis is one which more companies need to adopt, although it is understandable if organisations cannot do so on the basis of cost and scale. The COVID-19 pandemic is truly an unprecedented event. Never before has the modern, globally connected world ever dealt with a pandemic so severe that it has caused nations to shut down parts of their economies en masse.
There are no “precedented” situations to refer back to. The 1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic is a useful touchstone with some important and still-relevant lessons, but the amount of global trade in 1919 was a fraction of today’s, and modern supply chains flow across international borders in ways that have no historical comparison.
These unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, such as Nvidia’s stance on the situation. Otherwise, companies will need to come up with other unique ways to deal with the crisis, ensure business continuity, and help workers remain employed.