Showing posts from December, 2008

Learning from Retail's Wage & Hour Day of Reckoning

In every burst of an economic bubble you find where legitimate profits were made, where smoke and mirrors substituted for profits as in the Bernard Madoff scandal, and where profits were made by short-cutting laws and cheating honest people. To quote Warren Buffett , "Its only when the tide goes out that you see who's swimming naked." The naked truth behind double-digit retail profit growth was unmasked this week for two major retailers. A huge wage and hour settlement at Wal -Mart (estimated at $350 - $620m) and the upholding of a $35m judgement against Family Dollar indicates that both companies engaged in wage and hour fraud and cheated low-wage employees out of earned wages. I'm a pro-business guy and these companies are customers of ours, but this is justice long overdue. In the Wal -Mart case lawsuits had erupted in multiple states claiming the same offense; hourly workers forced to work without breaks and lunches and compelled to clock out at the end of th

Nashville For All Of Us

I have been putting off commenting on the regrettable "English Only" initiative currently on the ballot for Nashville voters. This is an important if not critical decision for this community and I wanted to wait until I had time to get the facts right and make a compelling case. Well, a coalition of religious and business groups has formed under the name Nashville For All Of Us and they have put together a great white paper on all the reasons this initiative is wrong for the community. You can get the facts at this link: I try to shy away from politics in this blog because my mission is a harmonious and successful workplace and political conversations work against harmony. Unfortunately, this referendum is so bad for the culture and business climate in our community that we can't sit back in our business cocoon and let bigotry kill what is one of the strongest local and regional economies in the nation. Passage of

Rumor Patrol: Thursday Outplacement Meetings

The week of the staff reductions, which were implemented on that Tuesday, we conducted outplacement meetings on Thursday. We held two sessions, both conducted by members of the HR staff including me. There were no current employees present other than the HR staff. I stepped out for literally 20 seconds to check a voice mail message, during which time a presenter was speaking, so I can accurately say that I didn't miss any discussions during either meeting. Those two meetings are now being cited with some authority by a person or persons in our current workforce as the basis for two pretty ridiculous rumors. The first is that there were comments made that indicate a third round of staff cuts coming in February. The second is that one of our departing sales reps got up and made an angry rant against the company. Here are the facts. 1. There was no discussion of additional staffing cuts. None. Zero. There was no question asked to that regard, none answered, no speculation m

Rumor Patrol: PTO and Staff Reductions

Its been a week since our last round of staff reductions; long enough hopefully for a little dust to settle. I want to address two rumors that went around last week in the emotions of the moment and make sure that the air is cleared and facts are known as to the role that our Paid Time Off (PTO) program played in these terminations. For those of you reading from outside the company, about three weeks prior to these terminations we made an intentional move away from paying for unused PTO; converting instead to a "use-it-or-lose-it" policy. This move will save us hundreds of thousands of dollars next year, or the equivalent of about 40 jobs. We announced this change both in writing and at informational meetings, most of which I conducted, a few days prior to our staff reductions. The two rumors or comments that I've heard about this policy change are (1) that we said we'd do this instead of cutting jobs but then cut jobs anyway, and (2) we did this to avoid having to

Good People One and All

As most of you know we lost over 50 really good people this week due to a reduction in force. This event was strictly driven by the economy and the nosedive in book sales we've seen in September and October (I haven't seen November numbers yet). I am gratified that six companies have contacted us looking for great talent, and we have established an email distribution list in order that we may send all job opportunities to those separated this week. The job titles and length of service for all of them are listed below. I have not listed names as I have not had an opportunity to ask each individual for their permission to do so. However, if you are interested in some of the best talent in our industry and in the Nashville market please contact me at . I will put you in touch with the candidate of your choice. Position Yrs Service Receptionist 18.4 Sr. Acquisitions Editor 25.3 Director, Marketing 1.4 Senior Publicist 2.5 Admin Assistant 0.6 Editor 3.0