5 ways to avoid layoffs


5 ways to avoid layoffs

Letting good people go should be your last resort.
Mar 01, 2009

Cost-cutting is an obvious choice when revenue falls and overhead rises. But think twice before laying off quality team members. Business guru Peter Drucker was famous for saying that during a downturn, employers should resort to layoffs—but only as a last resort. Replacing a competent staff when the economy recovers is time-consuming and expensive. If at all possible, temporarily restructure your staff rather than terminate employees permanently. Here are some ideas:

Reduce hours. Consider four-day work weeks rotated among team members. Extended unpaid holidays or vacations are another option.

Reduce your salary. Your willingness to take a pay cut demonstrates a sincere commitment to keeping your team together and sets the stage for the next suggestion.

Negotiate salaries with your employees. No one wants to get paid less, but if you explain the situation, a team member might prefer a smaller paycheck to no paycheck at all. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that at the end of October, there were 33 people looking for work for every 10 job openings in the United States.

Trim benefits. You can cut back on health insurance, institute a higher deductible, or ask employees to contribute a larger share to premiums.

Keep employees in the loop. Ask for their help in reducing costs. Even if they can't come up with alternatives to layoffs, their involvement will still help them adjust to the changes necessary to keep the practice viable.

Reality check: Your efforts to retain staff members during a recession will greatly enhance their loyalty and will help solidify your reputation as an employer of choice.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His latest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).