Home Strategic Talent Systems People Development Practices Individual Career Management

home > masteryspotlight

About Us
Why Mastery
Southwest Airlines logo
Southwest Airlines
, the Texas-based carrier and one of American’s most admired companies, has never laid off workers in its 27-year history. They believe that the most effective strategy to manage talent in hard times is to keep employees on the payroll and spend less money recruiting and training new workers until an upturn. They will trim costs, reduce pay across the board, increase unpaid vacation time, reduce hours and do whatever it takes. "I have never in my 13 years [at the company] felt that my job is in jeopardy due to the economy," said Jill Kronman, a flight attendant for Southwest “because Southwest is committed to avoiding layoffs at all costs.”

NBC Universal logo
NBC Universal announced cutting costs by $500 million next year because of a decline in consumer confidence that will affect their bottom line. In one of several strategies, the Company’s CEO, Jeff Zucker took aim at secondary, non-essential professionals. He has required division managers to reduce the number of consultants and temporaries from their staffing costs.

Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, DreamWorks, Steven Speilberg, and Whole Foods’ CEO, John Mackey are superb examples of corporate leaders who have worldwide visibility. When these CEOs announced they would be working for one dollar a year, it demonstrated to their employees that everyone’s sharing the pain in the downturn. One executive stated that organizations with high employee engagement have the highest level of trust in leadership and the likelihood of employees being resilient to changes has a lot to do with the company’s culture and its leaders.

Talent Management in Troubled Times
FedEx logo
FedEx sent a message to its employees that they are valued team members during the worst economic downturn in the company’s 35-year history. Without reducing its workforce or cutting pay and benefits of hourly workers, such as couriers and package handlers as well as mechanics and pilots, CEO Frederick W. Smith announced that he will take a 20 percent pay cut along with other top brass. Executives and managers are taking pay cuts of 7.5 percent to 10 percent and freezing their 401(k) contributions for the year. “Exempt” employees will take a 5% cut. This strategy will save the company $200 million for the rest of this fiscal year and $600 million through the next fiscal year.

Other Companies include:
Lincoln Electric logo
Lincoln Electric is a Cleveland company that makes industrial electric motors and arc-welding products. It has a simple strategic talent plan during hard times. Lincoln doesn’t let workers go because it would take supervisors three years to train new people. In bad times, Lincoln reduces work hours, reassigns workers to other departments and, as a last resort, freezes all hiring. Lincoln believes that labor should not be treated as a commodity, because skills can’t be reproduced quickly or easily.

The rolls of companies nipping at labor costs with measures less drastic than wholesale layoffs include Dell (extended unpaid holidays), Cisco Systems (four-day year-end shutdown), Motorola (salary cuts), Nevada casinos (four-day workweek), Honda Motors (voluntary unpaid vacation time), The Seattle Times (plans to save $1 million with a week of unpaid furlough for 500 workers) and Brandeis University (professors and instructors give up 1% of their pay).
Pretech Corporation logo
Pretech Corporation, a concrete manufacturer in Kansas City, Kansas has cut overtime, traded a holiday party for an employee-only barbecue lunch, and trimmed its pipe-making operation from five days to four. Business is down sharply in some of the company’s divisions, but Pretech has scanned trends and opportunities in the marketplace. It plans to take on work making concrete for infrastructure jobs, that the government will support through a government stimulus package.

Newsweek logo
Newsweek, owned by the Washington Post, is in the process of looking how to win business away from competitors and find a sustainable advantage in the marketplace. Newsweek’s ad pages are down an estimated 21 percent, with one fewer issue this year, according to Mediaweek. Both Time and Newsweek have cut staff and rate bases in the last two years, while U.S. News remains stymied. Scanning the horizon for new ideas, Newsweek will be moving towards a slimmer publication with fewer subscribers and more photos and opinion inside its pages, in a bold move, it could subtract about one million copies from its current rate base to arrive at a sweet spot.

Global Tungsten & Powders logo
Global Tungsten & Powders, a metal plant in Towanda, PA, is facing a 25 percent loss of revenue. Examining its options, the company initially cut all overtime and travel costs, as well as purchases of non-essential supplies and equipment. It is now allowing, but not requiring, its 1,000 workers to take unpaid vacation time and voluntary furloughs to stave off more drastic cuts.
Hot Studio logo
Hot Studio, a San Francisco Web design firm, laid off a handful of workers when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. But the company’s owner, Maria Guidice, said the tactic was painful, and she did not want to repeat it. Recognizing the critical value of each employee, her first step was to give people paid time off over the holidays instead of bonuses. The company believes, “Our No. 1 priority is to keep people employed. They understand we’re trying to keep the work force intact.”

Proven Impact
Strategic Partners
Customer Demos
Contact Us
Browse by Services
Toolkits and Portals