http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/some-tech-workers-are-paid-millions-while-doing-nothing/article/499867

Some tech workers are paid millions while doing nothing

Posted Aug 12, 2017 by Ken Hanly
The big tech companies in Silicon Valley in the southern San Francisco Bay area in California employ some high-tech workers who collect both full pay and stock without doing much or any work. They are nicknamed "resters and vesters".
Silicon Valley from above
Silicon Valley from above
Patrick Nouhailler
At first, the practice of keeping employees on the payroll while they do little or any work seems preposterous. One might even think perhaps big corporations lose track of what their employees are doing and these employees survive through administrative error. But there are often good reasons why these employees are not let go.
A prime reason why some tech companies keep some employees in these "rest and vest " positions is to keep them from going to work for another company according to Manny Medina a former Microsoft executive. Of course, only top talent will be treated this way who have shown themselves to be superior at their work. He said that Microsoft often "locked up" talent in areas such as AI, robotics, and quantum computing without taking full advantage of their skills. Medina said: “You keep engineering talent but also you prevent a competitor from having it, and that’s very valuable. It’s a defensive measure.”
Another reason to let an employee rest and vest is to buy silence and allow an employee time to look for another job before leaving the company. This often happens when a project is failing and the company does not want employees involved to speak out about it. A former Facebook engineer said that the company knew that he would speak out if let go so it kept him on for another six months to keep him quiet. A third reason is that some tech employees can do a lot more in a very short time than others. These effective employees may not work much but they achieve as much or more as tech workers who work all the time. These are sometimes termed the 10x engineers. A recent article admits that there are such people but suggests that a company that thinks they can solve all their problems by hiring such a person is wrong.
The Business Insider relates several accounts of employees who had been resters and vesters. One was an engineer at Facebook. One morning she woke up to go to work but felt ill and vomited in the bathroom. She thought she was getting sick. She was but it was because she was having a bad reaction to the thought of going to work. The engineer was earning a million dollars a year much of it in stock. She managed a team of about three dozen people. The project she was running was highly political and had many problems. She had exerted great efforts to avoid the people working on the project from losing their jobs. She was exhausted and stressed out. However, she did not intend to quit her job. As the appended video shows expenses for living in Silicon Valley are high.
After becoming violently ill, the engineer decided not to go in that day or the next and she knew she would not get fired. She was doing precisely what her manager had recommended. She had told the manager the previous day that she intended to leave the company in six months. However, she wanted to wrap up projects, but not take up any more. She would continue on the payroll so she could pay her expenses. She said: "My manager and I had lots of conversations. I teetered on leaving so many times. But this time was for real. I was going to see these projects to a healthy state and then I needed to go. I felt good about it. The next thing, he told me not to come in." At first the engineer thought that the manager meant to terminate her right away but the manager explained that he thought she was burned out and needed a break. He asked only that she not talk about it so that people would think she was working on another team. The engineer was furious and rejected the manager's proposal until that is she found herself violently ill at the thought of going to work. This is just one of many different cases arising from interviews with employees who were resters and vesters.