Slowdown at work

February 14, 2009 at 8:44 am (work) (, , )

This week saw some big economic changes to our department. First some background:

The  months following New Years are typically slow. Add in the economic slowdown this particular year, and we have been super-slow. I have 11 employees that I manage (which doesn’t include the 4 project managers that I don’t, so there are 15 crew that I can send out on jobs, depending on client requests). Once day this week I told 6 permanent, “full-time” employees not to come in (Tuesday), and again on Thursday, I had another 4 not work. This coming monday is a similar story. The unfortunate fact is, there are more days without work than with.

Well our company, which is small, and about 50-60 employees, has been struggling with how to cope. The other departments are all fine, their work hasn’t slowed down or isn’t affected. It’s been a stressful few weeks, having to deal with employees upset on not having regular work and the impact on their paychecks, understandably.

Well, we finally announced that starting this coming week, all employees in this department, other than the office staff, will be (temporarily) going down to a mandatory 4-day work week (if we even have that much). Two weeks ago I had client after client yelling at me about their bills and how they didn’t want to pay nor did they feel they should. Last week was all about my employees being upset on the lack of work, plus my first employee discipline (I’m new to being a manager and absolutely can’t handle confrontation). So I was expecting this week to have a lot of fallout after the announcement.

It went over surprisingly well – I think they were all expecting something to happen. One of them, who has been here years, is very experienced, and has the second highest seniority out of the group, mentioned that he was glad we said something. Every day he was wondering if he’d come in and find out he was layed off.

There is a bit of good news: my hours will not be affected – I have to answer phones and be at my desk no matter what, even if the crews under me don’t have work. I don’t have anyone else to share my work with, so I can’t not work. Either way, the recession has come calling and it sucks.

I’m not sure it will be enough. I was also asked to draft a temporary layoff letter, “just in case.” I hope we don’t need to, but we may not have a choice. If we do lay someone off, they will at least have the benefit of getting unemployment money, which is better than nothing, with no work available. 0

Keep your spirits up all, it’s depressing out there!

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