We are still ahead of the July 27th earnings call where T-Mobile will discuss results for Q2 2023. However, the company has not been shy about their Q1 success, which we can assume will continue into Q2.
To recap, T-Mobile was the industry leader of postpaid net account additions and net customer additions, among many other impressive accolades. They were also the only company to improve on churn year over year. This is on the heels of a clean sweep for network performance in Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index as of June 2023.
These are all great accolades for sure, but a looming change to enforcing an employee benefit in a new way puts dark clouds on the horizon.
Employees Got Some Bad News This Week
In a screenshot obtained by The Mobile Report, a post went live on T-Mobile’s internal communication hub “T-Nation” detailing new enforcement to the employee wireless discount policy.
Typically, employees are able to designate lines for a 75% discount across their account, up to 12 lines of service. There was always a 75% or 20% option, but employees would typically pick the better, as it was the obvious choice. Until now, employees could freely assign all lines a 75% discount with no repercussion. Now, T-Mobile is enforcing a long-ignored rule that only lines utilized by employees, spouses, or IRS identified dependents will get the 75% discount. The remainder of the account is to receive only 20%.
T-Mobile has trusted employees to make the call on line designation up until this point. That is now changing, and employees will be required to ‘attest’ to the fact that their discounts are in order. No longer will T-Mobile trust employees to assign their own discounts without fear of repercussion. Anyone found out of compliance after attesting will no doubt be subject to corrective action for abuse of the benefit.
To quote the communication directly, “This is more than a friendly reminder.” So, what does that exactly make it then?
T-Mobile Continues to Raise Post-Merger Red Flags to Employees
T-Mobile has seen a consistent stream of layoffs starting last year. Most recently, the sudden layoff of two-thirds of T-Force staff leaves a lot of employees scratching their heads about what exactly the company is up to.
This wasn’t the first round either, as the company has not been jobs positive since the merger at all, with layoffs in other major sectors beginning last year. Not a great look after promising that the combined company will employ more people than the two apart.
Still, this is just another swing in a barrage of occurrences that begs the question of what, exactly, the “Un-Carrier” identity is becoming internally. If talent and benefits continue to shrink at this rate, when will T-Mobile reach their standard of “changing wireless for good”?
What Does T-Mobile Even Gain?
It is no secret that a company has to control is income and expenses, and re-evaluating contributions to employees is no different. At the end of the day, it is a business expense. T-Mobile likely had the policy in place this way for years, but allowed employees to lean in as they wished. Given employees are a major contributor to their subscriber counts, saving a bit extra was probably worth turning a blind eye.
Is it really worth cracking down on your staff like this amid huge profits and gains? Probably not. Are employees circumventing an existing process and receiving a discount they are not eligible for? They’ll say yes, but it is an important lesson of “What you permit, you promote.” And T-Mobile has permitted this for many years now.
What could have been an incredibly easy win to say, “We know many have done it, so we will allow it now, have fun” has become “Comply or else.” Yikes.
A Cautionary Tale Becomes True
In the end, employees cannot say they weren’t warned. The Communications Workers of America union, or CWA, was a major opposition voice in the legal merger discussions for “New T-Mobile”. At the time, they provided estimates at just how much we can expect T-Mobile’s workforce to be impacted in a post-merger world. Though the number currently sits at about a 9k deficit to the 30k estimate from CWA, let’s not call that a win. The union also discussed how decreased competition creates an imbalance of control in the industry.
Is the decision to change and suddenly strictly enforce employee benefits an exercise in that control for T-Mobile? This could easily be perceived as a way for them to continue to nickel-and-dime their way to shareholder benefit – but now at the cost of their own staff. Do employees need to consider another look at a union like the CWA if T-Mobile continues to assert that control to protect themselves at this point?
Is T-Mobile’s greed getting the better of them? Has what was once a great place to work becoming increasingly squeezed in favor of profits? Let us know what you think in the comments below.