When Wegmans Food Markets has to eliminate a position, they make sure they find the displaced employee another job that they will be passionate about within the company. When their Britton Rd. store in Rochester, N.Y. closed last summer, they offered all of the store's employees a job at another location in the same city.
Within two weeks, all 250 employees from the Britton Rd. store knew exactly what they were going to be doing. "When it comes down to it, we are in the people business, but we just happen to sell groceries," says Kevin Stickles, vice president of store operations and human resources.
This retail chain did everything it could to cut costs, including using less expensive toilet paper throughout the company, to ensure that they didn't have to lay off a single employee. "If you put your employees first, they will truly take the best care of their customer," says Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container store.
Tindell talked to every one of his employees in the country during the company's monthly conference call to let them know that they would not be laid off. "When you don't have a tremendously nervous employee, they will perform better," says Tindell.
When assessing the company's budget, the executive team realized they didn't need two people working in employee travel services, so they moved one of those staffers back to a store position (that employee has stuck with the store, but they've since added staff to the travel department). "Even though our sales have bumped back, a lot of the expenses we were able to reduce have stayed off [the balance sheet]," says Tindel.
In 85 years of business, this family-owned grocery store chain has never had a layoff. By slowing down its hiring, the company been able to increase hours for current part-time associates who want to work more hours to compensate for an employee who leaves a position, and younger workers who leave for college often come back to work during the holiday season and summer breaks.
Nugget Market says they actively promote from within, and when they do hire from the outside, it is typically to fill an entry-level position.
This not-for-profit hospital hardly ever slows down because, struggling economy or no, there are always patients to see. St. Jude has made it a point to steer clear of layoffs, says Mary Anna Quinn, senior vice president of human resources. "We don't want to create fear among our employees. If they stick with us, we will stick with them."
Rather than resorting to layoffs, St. Jude slowed down its hiring and cut back on other expenses as economic conditions deteriorated over the past few years. "We asked our employees to cut back on things like magazines subscriptions because the little things like that add up," says Quinn. St. Jude patients do not have to pay for their care, and the hospital also pays for patient housing, food, and transportation.
Baptist Health continues to grow every year. They opened the West Kendall Baptist Hospital last year and they have opened, on average, three to four new outpatient facilities each year over the last few years. If a position has to be eliminated, employees can move to a different department or location at the company.
In the midst of recession, this leading pediatric hospital made sure that no one would be laid off by cutting elsewhere. Employees got involved and they figured out a way where they could make cuts, such as using non-fitted instead of fitted gloves for simple procedures. That move alone has saved the hospital $25,000.
"By getting our employees involved, we have saved $25 million in expenses," says Linda Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "Each department took charge, looking to see what they could cut."
"So far, it's been easy," says CEO Ben Adams regarding never having had to lay off an employee. "We have been able to keep our people and weather the storm." To keep all employees, this law firm has had to cut back significantly on marketing, travel expenses, retreats, and operating costs with companies such as Xerox, and seminars.
Despite these setbacks, Baker Donelson recently opened up an office in Houston and Orlando and, as Adams sees it, "We will continue to grow."
Scripps Health adheres to a no-layoff philosophy. Years ago, the nonprofit health care provider created a career resource center with the intent that if in an employee's job is eliminated, the company will pay them their full salary while they find another open position within the organization. Even though all employees don't stay, they give everyone the opportunity to continue working there. Some employees have been at the company for over 40 years, and several staffers look at Scripps as the ultimate career destination.
This health care provider has avoided layoffs by keeping a very strict review committee that approves managers' requests to eliminate, replace, or create positions. "Managers get frustrated with it, but we don't want to lay people off, so we want to make sure that we're not hiring excess people into the organization," says Lynn Turner, human resources director at Atlantic Health.
The company has also hired a lot of people on a per diem basis, both part and full time, so that if they need to cut back, they will reduce these employees' schedules or cut them altogether, which these individuals are fully aware of when they're hired. "This way, we can adjust our volume," says Turner.
The recession only helped this convenience store chain grow. With land, construction, and materials costs down, they have been able to expand their operations. "Everybody else was looking at their books to cut back and save, and we took advantage of it," says Quiktrip spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh. The company currently has 44 stores under construction and every full-time and part-time employee can easily be transferred to another part of the company or store if a location shuts down.
The company says it tries to manage its risks well and that every decision they make is based on long-term results. "We also believe a little bit of luck goes a long way," says Thornbrugh.