With lay-offs for the third quarter totaling 287,142 the largest number since 2005, it’s a perfect time to revisit the discussion of work life flexibility as an alternative downsizing strategy. A number of the top 100 CFOs surveyed as part of the CFO Perspectives on Work Life Flexibility study co-sponsored by Work+Life Fit and BDO Seidman, LLP used strategic flexibility to reduce their workforce without severing ties with employees:
“Approximately a third (38%) of CFOs report that their organizations had reduced their workforce in recent years. While employee lay-offs were most common, almost a third (30%) of CFOs innovatively used flexibility as a workforce reduction strategy that allowed them to stay connected to employees through contract project-based work (24%), reduced hours with full-benefits (3%) and sabbaticals with full benefits (3%).”
As I wrote in an earlier posting on the subject, more companies are using flexibility to creatively downsize. They recognize that it will be very expensive to rehire when the business cycle improves. Read the comment posted by an award-winning New Jersey-based advertising agency that describes how they have used work life flexibility to match talent with the needs of their business.
While it might be better to have a job at a reduced schedule or on a project-basis than no job at all, this use of flexibility as a way to manage the workforce injects a level of uncertainty into the lives of employees that hasn’t existed previously. This means that individuals need to prepare for this potential reality. To that end, fee-only financial planner, Michael Haubrich (www.toyourwealth.com) recommends that everyone have what he calls a “Career Asset Working Capital Fund.” This money is earmarked for the unique financial requirements of career transitions or job status changes including: (Click here to go to Fast Company blog)