Layoffs are rampant these days, but even so the negative consequences of this recession are taking shape differently than in the past. So far.
What other ways?
automobiles, chip maker ON Semiconductor Corp. will cut 1,850 jobs —
nearly 13% of its work force — and close four fabrication plants by
early next year. But that's not all. ON is also suspending bonuses and raises,
cutting discretionary spending, idling factories for as many as 12
weeks and requiring managers to take as much as six weeks off without
Employees at ON and elsewhere are learning that in this recession
layoffs are only part of the pain. Many companies are also cutting the
pay, hours and benefits of those who survive.
What is driving the change from the pure layoff strategies of the past?
She [Laura Sejen] and other experts cite two principal reasons for the shift: The
speed and depth of this recession is forcing employers to cut costs
steeply, and many also worry about retaining enough talented workers.
When the economy recovers, "those may be heads you wish you hadn't
cut," Ms. Sejen says.
A recognition that talent means something, and attempts should be made to preserve it. What a revelation!
Broad-based trimming allows executives to "keep your options open" amid
uncertain business conditions, Mr. Colvin says. "If you want to do it
all through layoffs, than you have to decide ahead of the game what
your future business is going to be," he says. Right now, that's "a
difficult call to make."
Some companies have a very defined strategy for holding onto key knowledge workers as long as possible.
Inc., that means deploying "rings of defense" to cut costs as sales
dip, says James Flaws, vice chairman and chief financial officer. Last
summer, the Corning, N.Y., maker of glass for flat-panel screens froze
hiring and cut discretionary spending. In the fall, it shifted many
employees to four-day workweeks and began eliminating 1,400 temporary
and contract workers.
In January, Corning implemented its third ring, cutting 3,500 jobs
— about 13% of the work force — consolidating factories and freezing
salaries, Mr. Flaws says. If sales continue to fall, he adds, "we might
have to do more," including selling assets or cutting pay, benefits and
Unfortunately the problem is that many companies have already effectively hit that "third ring"… if not the fourth. This is going to be a painful year in many industries.