April 13, 2020

Is It Time?

Do you need to start laying people off?

At times like these it is valuable to learn from the successes of those who went before us. For example, Bob Chapman is the CEO of a 125-year-old manufacturing company, Barry-Wehmiller. In 2008, Chapman was faced with the decision of whether or not to lay off any of his over 12,000 employees. A few years prior however, Barry-Wehmiller had made a promise to “measure success by how they touch the lives of people.” Cognizant of that promise, Chapman and his team decided to get creative and avoid laying people off.

How did they do it? First off Chapman cut his own salary from $875,000 to $10,500, his starting salary from 1968. They cut travel expenses. They also suspended executive bonuses and 401(k) matching. They instead build a program to help people retire early if they wanted.

What else did they do? They asked every employee to take 4 weeks of unpaid time off, whenever they choose to.

How did their employees feel? They were overjoyed! Knowing that had job security was a huge deal. And they worked together, trading the time off to help the people who needed it. It gave them some control in world that felt like it was spiraling.

What can we learn?  Laying off employees may seem like the simple solution, but it might not be the best one. Get Creative!

Read an extensive interview with CEO Bob Chapman here.