Thursday, January 15, 2009

A week's (unpaid) vacation

Yesterday's post showed how 2008s record layoffs, which are supposed to be saving weakened companies cash is also costing them in productivity and even sales. I had no idea when I wrote it that I'd be getting another example just hours later.

Gannett Co., the newspaper publisher that is also my former employer, is furloughing all -- that's right all -- its employees this spring. We're talking a week's mandatory, unpaid leave.

I haven't seen yet how much Gannett expects to save from the furlough but for a company its size tens of millions is a safe bet. But the reaction of some of my old buddies shows that in some respects the move is folly: in the words of one former Gannetter, another example of the newspaper business putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Last year, while I worked for Gannett in Cincinnati, there was a round of buyouts. Painful, employees were told, but necessary to avoiding layoffs. It worked, until the layoffs came. Still, this should be the end of the pain, management said. By then, I was moving on but those left are now figuing out how to replace a week's income and wondering how long this will stave off the next cut, the one that will see them on the unemployment rolls.

A few folks I talked to yesterday said they would spend their week off looking for a new gig; if any of them are lucky, the company loses good people who might have been valuable to a turnaround effort. Those who remain won't be all that excited to be there, what with being a week poorer and all. Quality and morale will suffer.

The economy notwithstanding, what company can truly afford that?


Mia6998 said...

Well I told you yesterday that my job has cut the milk delivery down to 2 days a week and they are no longer offering equal sweetener. I have no idea how much that saves but it must be significant for them to do it. I can only imagine how many millions will be saved from a one week forced unpaid vacation.

If you can pair the one week unpaid vacation with a one week paid vacation to have 2 weeks off I would try to find a way to capitalize on it. Whether it's a much needed staycation, extending an already planned vacation or doing what you said some employees are doing...searching for other job opportunities.

Keep us posted on this. I'm curious to hear the details. Like when do you have to take the one week unpaid vacation by, etc., etc.

Mia6998 said...

I got more info. According to the Editor and Publisher they have to take the 1 week during the 1st quarter of the year.

Ashley said...

I thought the Freep decided not to participate because of the pending redesign and got the ok from Gannett. Either way, it's bad news all the way around.