Fast Company: Make Downsizing Alternatives Part of a Broader Flexibility Strategy

Thankfully, the call to reduce unemployment by rethinking traditional all-or-nothing downsizing is gaining traction. Hooray! According to recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Wharton’s Knowledge at Work, more experts and business leaders are recognizing something I’ve been saying since the summer which is that there are alternative, more flexible approaches to reducing overhead costs.

What’s interesting is that few, if any, of the articles discuss these alternatives in the context of a comprehensive work+life flexibility strategy.  They are presented as isolated tactics, and not as part of a broader strategic use of flexibility in where, when and how work is done and life is managed.  This strategic application of flexibility allows organizations and individuals to adapt and respond to a broad range of business challenges and opportunities simultaneously.  Not just one.

Flexible hours, reduced schedules, compressed workweeks, job sharing, flexible staffing, and telework can reduce layoffs, but they can also achieve other important goals at the same time.  Here’s an example of the targeted impacts that one organization expects from its work+life flexibility strategy:

Work Better/Smarter – Improve workflow planning and improve communication
Manage Talent—Reduce real estate costs; manage headcount but without layoffs
Reduce Costs—Control health care costs by lowering the level of stress
Individual Work+Life Fit—Help people manage their dependent care responsibilities, and retain pre-retirees
Customer/Client Service—Extend coverage beyond standard hours
Environmental Sustainability—Cut energy use by reducing unnecessary commuting

In other words, while this company uses flexibility to manage headcount and reduce layoffs, that same strategy is also: (click here for more)