Thursday, December 18, 2008

When Cuts Happen

Red BullLike many companies, my company recently announced a scaling back of certain employee benefits.  Some of them were quite significant, like the suspension of our 401K matching.  Some of them were important but not as significant; we scaled back the variety of drinks we offer for free like Red Bull and bottled water.   In these tough times it is to be expected so none of these changes actually caught me by surprise.   Funny enough, I see the financial statements of my division, and we are cash flow positive with no debt, a relatively strong position to be in as the economy worsens.

But it is always wise to be conservative going into problems rather than be caught off guard when things eventually get worse.  And I am sure they will get worse from here.  The thing is, and maybe it is just me becasue I was expecting it, most of the other employees seem to be taking this quite well.  Perhaps I have a skewed view of things now because I am in management.  I might also be bias because I do  not expect much from the company I work for other than a place to work, growth opportunities, and of course my paycheck.  However, almost every employee I talked to seem to be taking the cuts in stride.

This is in stark contrast to my experience at Microsoft where there was an uproar over losing towel service, something probably used by less than 5% of employees.  Perhaps people are just more understanding in a down economy.  It is universally understood that these cuts were made in lieu of losing headcount.  How many people would argue about keeping an energy drink over losing their job or having to see one of their fellow employee's pack up their stuff?  Perhaps the difference this time is that people at Microsoft rarely worry about losing their job as opposed to most of the rest of the world which realize layoffs are a real possibility.

So I was pleasently surprised how well the staff was taking the announcement.  In fact, many people offered more suggestions about where there should be even more cutbacks.  Most of them really appreciate how honest and upfront management has been about the situation.  Most of them enjoy being part of the process.  It is ironic to me because I have been in other places which want to hide the truth from people until it is too late thinking their employees will not be able to handle it.  This case clearly shows how people can be if you are just upfront with the situation.

So how do you think you would handle getting your perks reduced?  Is there any perk you get that you think your company should do away with?  Is there any perk you would get upset if they took away?


  1. Are they still going to do the free dinner thing? Because that I think is a bit much.

  2. They are changing the policy, but it is not a complete elimination. Similar to what I have seen in other places.