Layoffs may lessen long term value

It's deja-vu...again [regarding "Demonstrate value," Editorial, May '01, p. 43]. We laid off employees to "save our companies" and "protect shareholder value." But, demographics are catching up with us. Skilled production worker and middle manager shortages will make meeting production requirements difficult when the economy improves.

09/01/2001


It's deja-vu...again [regarding "Demonstrate value," Editorial, May '01, p. 43]. We laid off employees to "save our companies" and "protect shareholder value." But, demographics are catching up with us. Skilled production worker and middle manager shortages will make meeting production requirements difficult when the economy improves. Imagine what that will do to shareholder value.

Three things can help:

  1. Capture knowledge and skills already present in your company;

  2. Record that information in a format that works for you; and.

  3. Train employees to teach these skills to new employees.

These three steps may do more to save our companies than any "Black Friday" layoff program ever did.

Shaun Browne, president Digital Mentor Group Inc., Cambridge, Ontario Canada

Yes, recourse to automatic layoffs is madness, but logical strategies won't always work. I have twice been at companies, which laid off engineers when the long-term costs were clearly far higher than keeping them on.

The rationale: "Engineering is a red-ink department." Accounting (supplying most upper-level managers) and sales/ marketing (supplying the rest) were also red-ink by management's standards, but had no layoffs. Without engineering, neither company would have had new products, or ways to correct assembly problems.

Pursuing logical means to preserve your job won't help if the decision-maker is illogical.

You have my permission to use this, but I'd prefer to be anonymous. Who knows? I may find myself reporting to a manager, perhaps an ex-accountant or an ex-marketer, who could take this personally!

A mechanical engineer, Midwest, U.S. Name and location withheld by request





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