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Most Employers Exercising Caution on Slashing Jobs

Despite the faltering economy, employers appear to be trying to avoid resorting to knee-jerk layoffs, according to a recent survey conducted exclusively for Workforce Management by Equa¬Terra, a Houston-based global management consulting firm.

November 21, 2008
Despite the faltering economy, employers appear to be trying to avoid resorting to knee-jerk layoffs, according to a recent survey conducted exclusively for Workforce Management by Equa­Terra, a Houston-based global management consulting firm.

    The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of October and is based on feedback from 300 HR executives at organizations with 1,000 or more employees. The majority of the respondents represented companies with 3,000 or more employees.

    Eighty-six percent of HR executives surveyed say that their organizations are being affected by the economic environment, but only 34 percent say they are planning layoffs or have recently conducted layoffs. Meanwhile, 58 percent say they are curtailing hiring, while 44 percent say they are cutting back on important HR activities because of the economy.

    The survey’s results seem to indicate that most companies are taking a cautious approach to the economic downturn, says Stan Lepeak, managing director of research with EquaTerra.

    "I think the fact that they are reducing hiring rather than resorting to layoffs shows that there is still a question about how bad things are going to get," Lepeak says. "They are putting more emphasis on cost avoidance than cost reduction."


"The fact that they are reducing hiring rather than resorting to layoffs shows that there is still a question about how bad things are going to get."
—Stan Lepeak, managing director of research, EquaTerra

    Companies may be putting off layoffs until they know what their budgets are going to be for the next year, he says.

    HR executives cited lower employee morale as a major effect of the downturn. Twenty-six percent of respondents say they are dealing with serious morale problems.

    Morale issues came up often in the commentary section, Lepeak says. For example, a number of respondents noted that they were concerned that productivity was suffering because of employees’ fear about their retirement benefits and job security.

    "Workers know that employment stability is most at risk, and it causes a lot of stress," one respondent wrote. "As a result, productivity is adversely impacted."

    Only 15 percent of respondents say their companies are cutting employee benefits because of the economy, and just 4 percent say they are cutting retiree benefits.

    Twenty-three percent say the economic downturn is not having a material impact on their organizations.

Workforce Management, November 17, 2008, p. 22 -- Subscribe Now!