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8/17/2003

Find out reasons for layoffs

By Richard Honey
Special to the Times-Call

It can happen … suddenly and without warning. Why do companies need to lay people off ?

Viability.

Some people would say money and yes, they are interconnected. If a company cannot make money, it cannot pay salary to its employees. More importantly, if your company does not have a viable product it will be unable to ride out the economic woes of the community. But if the product is still viable it is likely that, as the economic outlook improves, the company will still be able to market and sell it’s product or service.

If you are laid-off it is important to know why. Try to open some lines of communication with your management. Let them know you care about the company and its business and are willing to consider some options other than layoffs. You must also consider how long you have been with this employer and if you would be willing to help. After all, it’s “better the devil you know,” right ?

Is the layoff because your job description is no longer required at the company ? Then you could suggest that you are open to retraining and placement within another department. Possibly even contributing to the cost of retraining yourself. Options like this can lead to a move from an Accounting function to a role in Marketing. Maybe even taking a base salary with commission and eventually earning more than you are now.

Is the layoff because the company’s sales are down in a weak economy? Then you have to ask yourself “Can I afford to take a drop in pay to help MY company through these weak economic times ?” This is a soul-searching process. If you have lived from paycheck to paycheck you will not have savings available to get through these rough economic times.

If the reason is that the company no longer makes a viable product, maybe it has been superceded by a new electronic product and the company owners did not “move with the times”, then this is where you really will have to “get off this train to nowhere”. Even then, there are options available. Does your employer have concepts, inventory or expertise that will enable you and others to re-develop the product or services your company offers ? Would you be willing to invest some of your own money and purchase some company assets. Often, companies that have “dropped the ball” on new development still have some expertise and assets to make a viable about-turn. It simply takes some vision and planning. Is this you ?

When you are faced with the “pink slip”, be careful not to fall into the “It’s beyond my control” syndrome. Nobody wants a company to close its doors and no manager wants to lay somebody off, cutting them off from supporting their family, Open lines of communication, find out why the lay-off and contribute suggestions as to how this problem can be solved for the benefit of all involved.

Richard Honey is a personal coach and trainer with an emphasis on productivity in the workplace. He can be reached at 720-935-0287.