IBM ends reward program for employee invention - and workers aren't happy

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In a move that has left a seriously bitter taste in some employees’ mouths, IBM has scrapped its long-standing Invention Achievement Award Plan, a program designed to reward inventors with cash bonuses.

IBM workers who filed patents or published articles that served as defense against rival patents were awarded a type of points or credit, which could later be converted into a cash reward.

According to The Register, citing an unnamed source seemingly familiar with the matter, many workers are yet to exchange their points for cash rewards.

IBM has ended its Invention Achievement Award Plan

By scrapping the program, IBM has potentially freed itself from having to pay workers their bonuses if they have not yet converted their points.

According to The Register, workers could earn one point for publishing, three points for filing a patent, or four if the filing was deemed high value. Upon reaching 12 points, program participants would be able to convert their points into a cash payout.

The change was made in time for the new year, with an earlier memo reading: “The previous Invention Achievement Award Plan will be sunset at midnight (eastern time) on December 31st, 2023.”

Points under the previous program had to be converted by the deadline of the New Year, and IBM added that incompatibility would mean that any accrued points that did not amass to the requirement for a payout would not transfer over to the replacement points system, effectively losing workers up to 11 points.

The Register also noted that the invention review process was believed to take “months,” meaning that workers simply didn’t have the time to convert points to cash before midnight on December 31.

TechRadar Pro asked IBM for more information and context, but the company did not immediately respond.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!