Challenges arise daily in the business world. However, some challenges are most certainly more challenging than others. I encountered one of these issues several years ago as a Senior Information Technology (IT) Manager. As we all are painfully aware, the global recession has been a tremendous struggle for both businesses and families alike. When businesses struggle to survive, families often struggle as well. The constant stress in the workplace created by the possibility of downsizing is not productive to the business. Stress reduces workplace efficiency. Therefore, when individual employees worry that they may lose their employment positions, the company also reduces its output. I believe it is crucial to limit the stress of the economic downturn while still maintaining a lean business model.
In order to meet the budget challenge, I was asked to reduce my global organization by several employees about a year ago. I understood that my cost center budget was significantly reduced and most certainly needed trimming. However I also became aware that the employees were sentient regarding the downsizing in progress. It created a negative atmosphere in my organization. Morale, and therefore, efficiency and output suffered. I realized that I had several options. I could easily downsize several employees, or I could find a method to ensure that the transition was less painful for both the company and the employees. I decided upon the latter.
In order to accomplish this, I held meetings with my Sr. Leadership team and came up with a methodical exit plan. I started with a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) that gave the employees the choice to opt out with a substantial pay out package and an year-end bonus. Next was the involuntary separation package (ISP). Employees whose performance was rated as poor for last two consecutive years were selected for ISP. I had an organization of one hundred and two employees and my target was to reduce by fifteen employees to meet the challenge. Six of my employees took VSP and four took ISP.
I then held a meeting in my global team. I was honest with them that about the company-wide budget challenges. I also asked them for their assistance. I was aware that several of my employees were struggling with life-work balance. I also was aware that several of the employees had spouses who were employed full-time and received benefits. I therefore suggested that we consider, as a team, a positive solution to this challenge. I suggested that I was open to flex-time for individuals who transitioned to a part-time schedule. I also suggested that I was open to job-sharing between two individuals. Several of my employees approached me with various proposals regarding their employment. Six of them did switch to job-sharing with two positions. Four of them did downgrade their employment to part-time with the understanding that their hours would be flexible. I took the proposals to my Sr. Leadership management and they were accepted. It accomplished the necessary cuts in the budget and reduced the stress in the department. Overall, I think my team and I worked together to find a positive solution to a potentially negative situation.