Attention Employers!  Like most business operators today, you are concerned with the maximizing resources, particularly your best assets.  You have a staff of wonderful, talented people who have shown you great loyalty and devotion.  Without this human capital you could never have achieved your success!
But times are hard!  Though you don’t want to, you feel you may have to let some of these employees go.
As a smart business owner, you can downsize – preemptively – before you wind up in a deep financial hole.  Or you could wait, sacrificing good people after the damage has already been done.  Either way, those committed workers lose, and so do you.
Alternatively, one way to keep most of your loyal staff working is to ask for volunteers who are willing to work part-time.
Be open and honest with you staff and managers so that they fully understand that your reasons for reducing hours are not a punitive or desperate act.  Explain that you want to keep as many people as possible, and your preference is to not permanently terminate those who have worked hard and supported your efforts to build your business.  In order for the business to weather the current economic storm, such a move will keep folks off the unemployment lines, and allow you, the business owner, to maintain an appropriate – albeit reduced – operational efficiency.   When your staff fully understands what needs to be done, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of staff who will support your efforts!
The most immediate gain is the money you will save in salaries and employee benefits.  Another advantage is your retaining of good employees.  When the economy rebounds (and it will!) you will need to spend less on recruitment and training.  Keeping as many of your staff as possible – even if they are only part-time – means that operations could continue fairly smoothly with minimal disruption, and not attract concern from your customers and creditors.
To make this scenario work will require a good deal of staff cross training.  When your staff is lean and mean, the versatility gained through cross training affords coverage of all key function areas and minimizes a sacrifice to service.  Your business can continue to operate, staff will gain new skills (or become reacquainted with older skills), and your business will keep people working.  You may also discover that some of your employees possess hidden talents that could be used to mutual advantage.
Sure, you will have to decide who needs to work what shifts, and who will need to cover specific function areas to maintain coverage, task completion and operational continuity.  But in this process you’ll increase skill levels for all retained employees.  Workers will gain a new level of understanding of all job functions, and of your entire business.  As an employer you will retain the good will of your devoted workers, morale will remain higher because most of your employees will not see themselves on the unemployment line, they’ll also see fewer of their associates lose their jobs, and your customers may never notice that you have restructured your operation and personnel to retain your flexibility.
Yes, there are many ways to keep your business going in a down economy, but the more people you keep working, the more positive impact you and your business will have on the overall economy.  You’ll keep people working, feeding their families, and paying taxes.  Think of this as creating your own stimulus package!
I hope you and your business won’t have to resort to any kind of restructuring and that you’ll be able to retain your best assets, your Human resources!

By Hank

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