10 Ways Companies Can Cut Costs Other Than Layoffs

This post was written for MediaJobsDaily by Jane Ashen Turkewitz, who is president of T & Jam Resume Services and provides resume advice at LetsTalkTurkeyBlog.com. Jane’s dug up some great cost-cutting ideas — other than layoffs — that some media companies have already put into practice. Let us know what you’d add to her top-10 list!

What can companies do to save money besides laying off staff? I decided to probe among my media contacts to find out. My hopes were to hear about unique cost-cutting measures that corporations would be proud to share. Case in point, Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom offering up a paid leave of absence to its Associates, as noted in a front-page story in the New York Times last week. But, no such luck in my findings when it comes to what media companies are doing to shave dollars. Most of my contacts gave me fodder but asked me to keep their identities confidential.

The majority of people I spoke with are entangled in belt-tightening corporate environments. Some more so than others.


Andrew Budkofsky, SVP of Sales and Partnerships for Break.com, says that although his company has always been cost conscious, he thinks it’s important to empower his staff when it comes to spending, encouraging them to make prudent decisions. He believes the very term “cost cutting” sends a negative message to employees, hurting morale. “Corporations would be surprised by the amount they could save by treating their employees like adults and letting them make their own decisions. As a manager, I can see who is taking advantage and can deal with it on an individual level instead of making blanket policies.” An admirable approach for sure, but difficult to police in a larger corporate environment.

In direct contrast, another contact—an executive of an entertainment site—feels as though his company treats its employees like children, punishing them with cost-saving initiatives. Just the other day, senior management sent out a curt email to inform the entire staff that there was going to be a temporary halt to 401K contributions. When asked if he felt relief that he still has a job, which could have been eliminated as an alternative to this across-the-board solution, my contact was somewhat non-committal. Sure he knows people who are out of work but his concern is “will the company actually ever reverse this non-contribution policy?” Perhaps he and his co-workers would have received this news more positively had they been told about this in a more personal, caring way, vs. a terse email. (Kind of how Obama tries to throw in some positives when speaking about the state of the global economy to ensure he doesn’t depress the hell out of everyone.)

Lisa Rosenberg, Partner and Managing Director, NY, for Porter Novelli, says that her company has tried to avoid mass layoffs by focusing on reducing expenses that won’t hurt core assets of their business. One of the things they have done is sublet excess space in New York City and outer offices, saving a big chunk in monthly fees. She also says that they have tried to cut back on non-essential travel, conducting more transcontinental meetings via videophone. Even focusing on supplies can make a difference, she says. A simple thing like encouraging staff to use two-sided copies can put a lot of money in a company’s pockets.

Many of my media contacts sent me notes saying that there have, in fact, been layoffs in their companies. But, on top of those layoffs, cost-cutting measures have been put in place. What follows is a list of the top 10 cost-cutting initiatives that are currently being used or were offered up as suggestions, in hopes, perhaps, that more executives will choose an alternate path to those nasty layoffs.

TOP 10 CORPORATE COST-CUTTING MEASURES OTHER THAN LAYOFFS
-Lower travel expenses; use videoconferencing technologies instead of travel
-Offer paid leaves/sabbaticals
-Offer extra week vacation, unpaid
-Close offices during Christmas week
-Eliminate overtime
-Sublet unused office space/make smart real estate decisions
-Renegotiate vendor contracts
-Reduce entertainment expenses
-Suspend any raises/restructure bonuses
-Lower contributions to 401Ks/insurance plans

I know it’s a dog-eat-dog world. BUT, maybe if we treated our employees as if they were as important as our biggest client, our workers would be more willing to embrace one of the sacrifices listed above. It’s better than losing your job or watching the guy in the next cubicle lose his, wondering if you’re next. Isn’t it?