Unemployment in WNC: Share the pain

In recent history, employers have used layoffs to cut expenses during economic downtimes. This creates a drastic hardship on the employees who lose their jobs. A better approach is to cut the workweek and spread the pain across all employees. A four-day workweek for everyone is better than laying off the newest employees.

— Paul King


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4 thoughts on “Unemployment in WNC: Share the pain

  1. travelah

    Some employers do that, especially those that can flex their operations based on orders or sales. Others need to be able to continue to run to meet existing orders or sales volume even though the volume is not sufficient to sustain current employment levels. It is a mixed bag and depends a great deal on the business model and type of business. Retail operates entirely different than manufacturing and within manufacturing, repetitive, discreet and process models each require different staffing models.

  2. Grant Millin

    travelah, I would add that a small local retail operation with 1-2 employees is pretty inflexible on the idea of spreading cuts to worker hours… unless the business wants to be open fewer hours and the business owner wants to work more personal hours for less money (as they are salaried employees as well).

    Today’s manufacturing operations can be places where more flexibility occurs… unless a firm waits until massive layoffs are need to compensate for big macroeconomic swings. Of course if one works in service or manufacturing and you live in a state where unions are more available that can help someone whose been laid off… if you have some time in the union.

    Sadly we think of human capital as secondary externalities to The Economy. Economic operations go first because without lean economic engines no one gets fed… or we have to resort to socialism.

    I happen to not believe positive ethical innovation has to fall within dualities of the past. I’m not saying that in a universe of possibility you would disagree that innovation is another factor, travelah.

  3. travelah

    I have been fortunate in my career to have worked for companies that valued employees as people first, resources second. That does not mean that a company must sacrifice lean manufacturing techniques or suffer through reduced operating hours. There has to be a balanced approach in any business. The long standing adage is that a company has to remain profitable in order to stay in business and employ anybody otherwise at the end of the day, everybody is unemployed. That is true no matter what social perspective you employ.

  4. Grant Millin

    …You know I wasn’t suggesting we close businesses, right, travelah? Innovation means looking at things with a new perspective. Innovation principles and processes ask us if many of our old assumptions are now obsolete. If innovation doesn’t control change with real management tools, than it’s just talk… Or worse, misleading.

    Innovation is of course a business mind frame, not just one that can be used in social and environmental innovations. But it can be turned on old business frames that don’t work so well any longer (which doesn’t mean killing the idea of profits or private property). New ways of doing things may never be able to take care of everyone and everything (‘for free’), but it seems like the larger systems surrounding businesses–low-mid income communities and the environment–are long overdue for a balanced scorecard approach.

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