Keep your staff and bottom line intact

Since when did people become expendable?It seems that way, when we read the headlines showing hundreds of thousands of people being laid off in the wake of the recession. As of this month, the unemployment rate has reached 8.5%. In some states, the number of those unemployed exceeds 10% of the workforce. First, we freeze raises, then we stop 401K contributions, and finally we hand out pink slips as a way to save money. But what these strategies don't do is MAKE us money. That's what Clint Greenleaf, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, believes management should really focus on. "If I were more political, I might start the dramatic 'one in every 10 Americans' speech in a portentous, overly concerned, Big Brother voice. But let's just cut to the chase, shall we?" he said. "My company's industry is not immune to the effects of the current economic state - quite the opposite. We're small, independent, and we produce a non-essential consumer good. For some in this business, that could be a death sentence. Larger rival companies are cutting jobs in the hundreds. On the other hand, we only have about 30 full-time employees. And even one layoff is, in my opinion, unacceptable." Greenleaf's assertion is that it's not about who's "essential" and who's "expendable." If you've done your hiring right, everyone is essential, he said. "Cutting one person from the team is losing one invaluable resource that helps make this entire company tick," he said. "In the short term, it's hurting morale and lowering the productivity of a department. In the long run it means the entire company's time and money spent trying to make up for the loss-redistributing tasks and overburdening departments, struggling to make up the slack, dealing with the paperwork, and eventually putting additional man-hours toward rehiring and retraining. And of course, the toll layoffs take on the economy are tremendous." The most important resource in any company is people, according to Greenleaf. Without their labor and commitment, most companies would not be successful. To that end, he's asked his employees to institute what he calls the "lay-on" as opposed to the layoff. "Essentially, every employee is putting in one voluntary extra hour per day at work," he explained "One extra hour to be used in the most advantageous way possible: finishing up projects, having a meeting with a client or vendor, assisting a coworker, getting hands dirty working in another department. Even cleaning a desk or organizing files, if it helps improve efficiency." The numbers work, he said: •30 employees x 1 hour per day •Multiplied by a 5 day workweek •Equates to 150 extra hours •Divide that number by 40 hours per standard workweek •The result is 3.75, the equivalent of almost 4 full time employee work weeks For any company, an extra hour increases the work week from 40 to 45 hours and is a simple 12.5% increase. "And managers don't have to hire a single new person," he said. "Rather than cutting expenses (and revenue), we're keeping all of our employees' benefits and increasing productivity - and revenue as well. And, we aren't asking for anything big. Just a little extra time each week that is completely flexible." And it's working. Since implementing the program in early March, company profits are up and reserves for hard times are growing. Clint Greenleaf is CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, where he's published more than 1000 titles, and his 2008 sales hit $8.1 million.

********** Published: May 8, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 3