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Editorials

Laying Off Workers Not The Right Answer
By Solon
Jan 28, 2009, 4:37pm

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Every day more bad news in every sector, 5,000 people laid off at Microsoft and 1, 000 at United Airlines, 5,000 at Intel, 1000 at Toyota and on and on. It looked on Monday of this week that something like 80,000 layoffs were announced.

Why is that?
(This is not a simple question? )

Obviously sales of everything are down, the economy is tanking and the age of consumerism is gone, baby, gone! The easy answer is to lay off the "workers" - after all you can't stop fixed costs like electricity, land and water. And "Wall Street" loves to see that answer - stock value automatically goes up. But hasn't "Wall Street" been proven seriously wrong lately. And what is that entity - a bunch of investors betting on easy answers, blaming the worker and giving a pass to management. But these are not normal times and times like these call for new paradigms. So Mr Manager, Chief Executive, Owner-in-Chief, this is the time to see if you can really manage, really turn things around. The chips are down - time to earn the big bucks.

So here is another way to look at things - maybe this mass layoff is not the way to go. Maybe there is another way. About now you are thinking - that's crazy and maybe it is, but stay around a little longer.

How about a different approach?

Suppose we call a meeting and say something like this
"We have hard choices, but so do you.
Can you as employees help save this company or do we have to cut back and perhaps shut down?
Can you come up with ways to be more efficient, produce a better product or increase sales?
Can you keep this thing going?

Ok, we may have to freeze all salaries, cut back on perks, maybe take a pay cut or reduce hours, too, but suppose we try to keep everybody. Will you help?

And if you will - then lets get going"


Yes it may have to re-evaluated it in three to six months or a year but isn't it worth a try?

This is a way to start:
1. Everybody go back to your work area and think about ways to do this. We need ten ideas from everybody, every single worker. If talking in groups helps then do that, too.
2. Then come back after work hours and everyone discusses these ideas.
3. Then we take the top ten ideas as agreed upon by voice vote and implement them
4. We give it some normal time to evaluate the ideas - some days some weeks but not more than months.
5. Then we vote to keep those ideas that work or try something else, like the next ten ideas.

Who will be the first to try?

Note: (For some workers, obviously - it is time to move on to some other job, position or endeavor. There are always people unsuited to their jobs, they just need to face that and management should have already noticed it. Everybody has encountered the person who didn't fit the job - the nurse who didn't communicate, the sales person who didn't care about the customer, the office worker who couldn't get organized, on and on. But then maybe there is a job inside the company they are better suited for, too. And maybe this is the time to see if that can happen?)

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