When I started blogging about flexibility as an alternative to layoffs, my primary focus was to encourage companies to “consider” how reduced schedules, job sharing, shifting hours, sabbaticals/furloughs, and project-based employment could lower labor costs while retaining valuable talent and minimizing job cuts.
I saw flexible downsizing as a powerful “option.” But as the rate of layoffs multiplied exponentially in January, my sense of urgency began to rise. Then I read, “Unemployment Surges Around the World, Threatening Stability” by Nelson D. Schwartz in the New York Times, and “The Axis of Upheaval,” by Niall Ferguson in Foreign Policy. I now believe using workplace flexibility to manage costs (not just labor) and minimize layoffs is critical to global stability and security, not just an “option” to “consider.”
According to Schwartz, the rate of job cuts domestically and internationally is accelerating to levels not seen since the Depression, “Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December, 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs.” France’s employment minister, Laurent Wauquiez, explained, “This is the worst we’ve had since 1929. The thing that is new is that it is global, and we are always talking about that. It is in every country, and it makes the whole difference.” The International Monetary Fund “expects that by the end of the year, global economic growth will reach its lowest point since the Depression.” (Click here for more)