Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cutting Costs

The recession is affecting all of us. If you haven't become a victim of downsizing chances are you know someone who has. People and companies are finding new ways to save money that they had never before thought of. I heard one financial analyst recently say, "People are so scared they're actually beginning to save money." Amazing!

Though there are few, one of the potential good things that has and will continue to come out of these economic hard times is the knowledge of new ways to save money. I have probably heard of at least a dozen different ways that companies are cutting costs in order to keep from cutting jobs.

Some companies are being forced to make such large cuts that down-sizing is inevitable. However, here are some methods other companies are employing in order to retain employees.

I recently read a news article about a New England school system struggling to cut costs without cutting jobs. After making all possible budget cuts they were left with a deficit that would lead to 6 people losing their jobs. In stead of giving them the pink slip (no, not the one for detention) they came up with a better, more inspiring solution. Each employee in the entire school system, from board members to janitors, was asked to work one day for free. They had an astounding surge of support from virtually all employees. The money saved was enough for all 6 people to keep their jobs.

I work part time at a Harris Teeter, and we were recently told that we must now take 40 minute lunch breaks (as opposed to 30 minutes). I saw this as a good thing personally, because I enjoy the extra few minutes to sit peacefully after I've eaten lunch, and the cut in my paycheck is negligible. But the company as a whole saves quite a bit of money.

These two stories teach us something important. If everyone sacrifices a little we can all benefit a lot.

A friend of mine said her company has gone to 4 hour Fridays. She works only a 36 hour week now, but who doesn't want half the day off on Friday? She told me this with a cheery face as she was running some errands on a Friday afternoon.

Some small to midsized companies are making across the board salary decreases. This is difficult on the employees but I think it's a better solution than cutting jobs completely. I would rather make a bit less money than see my office-mate completely lose his or her job.

North Carolina state issued a hiring freeze for management positions. If a manager retires or quits, the position will not immediately be filled. This is one way to save money, and in a lot of cases an office can function for the most part without the manager. I don't say this as a depreciation of any managers out there, because my mother-in-law is a manager for the state, and she's taking care of business!

Other companies are requiring their employees to take some vacation time by a certain date. Who couldn't use a vacation!? Realizing that many people cannot go easily without the pay lost from vacation time, I am trying to see the bright side. At least you still have your job. Hey during your vacation you could work somewhere else a make a few bucks.

Some businesses are considering requiring smokers to pay higher health care premiums. I personally don't have a problem with this. Is it discrimination? No, a smoker chooses to be one.

My neighbor works a very stressful job and it is often obvious on her face. After a tough week recently she paused in our conversation and said something profound, "You know what, as difficult as my job can be, I am sure thankful to have one."

This is a time when we are all stopping to count our economic blessings, and I hope that we don't forget it all when the economy eventually rebounds. It is a privilege to be able to work in the safe and secure work environments provided by this countries freedoms. And it is a privilege to be paid the high amounts of money that we're paid when compared to the rest of the world. Immigrants come to our country with the high hopes that they'll land a job paying as much as 8.50 per hour. That's what I make bagging groceries.

Not ignoring the monetary difficulties of the day, lets try and appreciate what we do have and like an auditor continue to diligently count our blessings.

No comments: