Within five minutes of NPR news last night, I heard about four company layoffs. Depressed beyond measure, I switched the station. Denial mode? Sure. But my issue isn’t all economic meltdown horror. Rather, I’m getting a bit agitated that all we hear about are layoffs. Is that the only solution? Are industry execs creative enough with restructuring plans?
In a 1998 article, John Dorfman, manager of a Boston-based investment advisory firm, floated a theory that for public traded companies, layoffs may seem to provide short-term stock boosts but often other elements in the restructuring package deserve the credit. In “Alternatives to Layoffs,” F. John Reh questions whether job cuts really save money.
For the media industry, what are the alternatives? Weeklies and monthlies are cutting back print issues while relying more and more on their online brand to deliver content.
The Financial Times announced buyouts but also offered some employees a reduced 3-4 day week with salary cuts. I haven’t seen details to know if the agreement resembles a flex leave position which could mean a freeze on vacation and retirement accrual and raises. But you still are able to pull in a wage which may be higher than unemployment pay.
Texas Instruments tried employee lending sending HR staffers to vendors for as long as eight months with intention of bringing them back to their original jobs. The vendor pays the wage back to TI.
But you are still laid off. What is the best way to get the news? By phone, in person, alone, with a group, in an office, in a conference room, via email? Most management consultants will say that trust is key. The impact of layoffs are worse in an opaque, stealth or ostrich-in-the-sand atmosphere. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer laid off staff by phone calls. Blog comments overwhelming appreciated the privacy and time to regroup that a phone call at your desk or at home allows. Some felt a face-to-face layoff announcement risks an uncomfortable, where-do-I-look moment in a manager’s office. Then the dreaded walk back to your desk.
Have you been laid off? Seen cuts in your office? Good or bad method and why? Send us a comment. For those who need to order some humor, buy the ‘Imperial Cuts‘ print by U.K. photographer Mike Stimpson.