The Newsweek Example: Way of (Work) Life is Changing

by | May 21, 2009

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For any avid long-form news reader, this week’s Newsweek touched a raw nerve. In a new format, Editor Jon Meacham attempted to explain the new structure, added features and missing content as necessary to counter challenges in the failing business of journalism today. While he didn’t mention the words “bad economy,” they were obviously top most on his mind as he penned the note. Leaner corporate accounts and a bottomed out credit pool have resulted in smaller companies, thinner executive suites and the return of efficiency control.

With mergers and acquisitions becoming daily occurrences and layoffs commanding their own trackers, how are the remaining “efficient workers” meant to cope?  New business models bring new perspectives and modified skills, necessitating in-house training. This would avoid turnover, boost employee skills up a notch and keep morale high. But with fewer spare pennies, training and career advancement programs have been a prominent casualty of 2009.

Daniel Gross refers to this as the “Avis economy” in a recent article on Slate.com, arguing that it is the intangible smaller things, like hard work that will help rebound the economy. His reasoning is sound but only skims the surface of what this entails for the average worker. Besides hard work, the emerging business models will mean accepting more responsibility with leaner definitions of salary expectations, perks and job satisfaction.

With that in mind, here are a few pointers for executives who are pondering how to introduce their leaner (and meaner?) way of doing business to their staff:

   1)  Address it honestly.  Employees like nothing better than a transparent management. They would rather hear from you that things are going down than see the NASDAQ crash. Whether it is a memo or a more personal company/department meeting, describe the new model in clear terms and be ready for questions.

   2)  Keep it simple. Break it down in commonly used business lingo, but be careful to not sound patronizing. With layoffs and pay cuts hanging like a cloud, they will most likely be prepared for challenges. As long as they are not asked to give up a whole lot, staffers will be willing to adapt.

  3)  Desperate times beg for desperate measures. Don't drive this point home; they get it, especially if they are in a hard-hit city like New York. Most likely they have been expecting worse news than a change in how they pitch sales to clients or taking the Newsweek example, what and how they report.

  4)  Emphasize your decision as career advancement. Highlight that this is a conscious decision to increase their skill levels rather than hire from outside. Employees need to hear that they are valued. Although layoffs are not meant to be personal, a change in their work structure affects them all on many levels. That is why the emphasis should be on the opportunity to become efficient, adaptable workers and therefore, increase their value in the marketplace.

  5) Define a schedule. Organization and deadlines work wonders in driving a point home. The less time we have to ponder the changes, the faster we adapt and more likely it is that we succeed in the new order of things.

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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