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Swapping Workers To Save Jobs

August 1, 1996
Related Topics: Contingent Staffing, Ethics, Featured Article
The Dilemma:
Sharon is the director of HR at a manufacturing facility in town. She called to discuss her concern that a recent lull in sales likely will result in a temporary slowdown in production. Her idea is to loan 10 employees to you for temporary placement in your operation. Although you could probably use five more workers, you already have an uncomplicated arrangement with a local temp agency to take care of any short-term increases in staffing. Also, you feel sure your plant manager will resist the suggestion, disliking the idea of training employees for an unpredictable length of time. Should you try to persuade your manager to consider this plan—knowing that if you don't these workers will face unemployment?

Readers Respond:
If in fact the skill set needed to perform duties in both settings is compatible, I strongly would suggest that the plant manager allow me to try this as a test situation. Prior to implementation I would meet the potential group of employees from Sharon's plant to satisfy myself, at least initially, that they wouldn't disrupt my workers. I would limit my selection to the top five of the group with the understanding that work may be available for the remaining employees if the test proves successful.

Finally, I would establish a reciprocal understanding with Sharon's company to preserve employment opportunities for my employees in the event of a similar decline in business. This understanding would include the manner in which employees are chosen for alternative assignments, as well as how to resolve problems that arise. Even if the employees eventually are laid off, this arrangement will have given both plants the opportunity to interact and share ideas.

—Phil Brunone, President, HR Solutions Inc., Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Personnel Journal, August 1996, Vol. 75, No. 8, p. 104.

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