We’re in a demand slump; if you think downsizing will cut costs and shore up the bottom line, consider the unexpected consequences of layoffs.
Hefty severance pay, outplacement services, and other direct costs can add up quickly, and indirect costs can be substantial. E.g., losing experienced employees can precipitate lasting damage to your business. The direct costs can wipe out any short-term financial benefit if new hard-to-find employees are to be hired and trained within six to twelve months when the downtrend stops.
Then there’s the trap of believing that things will get better soon and downsizing the smallest number of people in anticipation of a quick turnaround. And when that expected miracle doesn’t materialize, you’ll wind up making successive cuts. That’s awful for the morale of the employees spared. The best employees won’t feel indebted to soldier on and may start casting around for new offers terrified that they will be among the next to be cut.
Idea for Impact: Layoffs may not be the best strategy for grappling with hard times. Examine not just the cost of labor, but also the value created by labor. Consider the trade-offs and try furloughs, pay cuts, job sharing, and scaled-down hours instead, depending on when you foresee business rebounding. You’ll spread the pain of the downturn more broadly, keep talented employees, earn loyalty, and better position your company for recovery.