Layoff Strategy

May 2009

To keep the company afloat, some owners/presidents are laying off some of their staff. What is your company doing to retain its "A” Team, knowing that the economy will eventually turn around? Or, if you have had to let some top employees go, what are you doing to keep in touch with them so that you don’t lose them completely?

When times are tough like now, the best policy is communication. I know a few contractors who just have no work, and as long as an occasional phone call keeps them in the loop, when the economy turns around, they will be sure to come back.
—Wayne Dickinson, Dickinson Drywall, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

After I sat down with my "A” team and explained all the problems with these economic downturn and the possibility of layoffs or cuts in salaries or hours, all they did was complain and moan and left my company after years of training etc., to open their own companies and compete against me by contacting all my customers, lying about specifics with my company just to gain an upper hand in bidding jobs … . So that answers your question; it’ll be a cold day in hell before I hire them back!!!! I have no faith in friendship or humanity anymore!!!
—Alan Castro, President, Advanced Specialty Const. Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Florida

We are taking a small amount of jobs at a lower price than normal to keep our key employees working, and they are working harder and more efficiently to help our bottom line. We have had to lay off some key guys, but our core group is still out there and hopefully we can get guys back when things turn around.
—Anonymous

What recession? What layoffs? We are having our best two years ever! Treat your customers, employees and subs as equal parts of the team and continue to turn out the best work at the best prices, and you will win even in the downturns!
—Brad Hollett, President, Accelerated Construction LLC, ACT Architects LLC, Jacksonville, Florida

We all appreciate those who, as part of the team, helped build our company. So outside of creating something to do (wash company trucks, do yard work around shop) what else should I be obligated to do? We are hanging on for dear life in an industry that has become more about the lowest price than ever before. Add to this that our customers show very little (if any) loyalty. If the reverse were true, if supply could not keep pace with demand, would my "A” installers stay with me, if given an opportunity to go where they could make more money?
—Anonymous

Fortunately in our part of the country our business is strong and we have not had to lay off any of our management staff. We have a great team right now, and we do what is necessary to keep our backlog high to maintain our people.
—D. Parsons, Diversified Interiors, El Paso, Texas

We carry their health insurance and pay the full premium while they are laid off. We have only lost one "highly valued” employee but have cut back to about 60% of our normal work force. His brother still works for us, so we try to keep in touch.
—Anonymous

Being the sole owner and the only employee is me, I try and interact with my contractors as much as possible! Keep in shape, eat right and try to stay mentally focused on the positive. This way I feel that I have several employees! This is my A team.
—Dale L. Tucker, Owner, Acoustics, Boise, Idaho