Corporate Eye

Jaguar Employees Vote for 4-Day Work Week Instead of Layoffs

The economy is at one of its lowest points in history.  People are losing their jobs as corporate profits tumble.  Companies are asking for and getting bailouts to stay afloat.  What’s a luxury carmaker like Jaguar Land Rover to do?  Ask its employees for help – that’s what.

I’m always talking to any business owner who will listen about how leveraging the strength of employees as brand advocates is one of the most powerful marketing and branding tools a company can have.  Loyal employees are extremely vocal about the companies and brands they work for, and nothing is as powerful as word-of-mouth marketing in terms of retaining customers and finding new ones.

Jaguar Land Rover took a huge step in nurturing employees as brand advocates this year.  When the company realized it needed to cut back, executives turned to employees and asked them to vote for the option the company should pursue to stay on track financially.  In the end, employees decided to reduce their work weeks (and pay) from 5 days to 4 at the company’s plants.  This would save jobs and give the company the money it needed.  Also, bonuses were eliminated and pay was frozen.  In return, the company promised there would be no mandatory job cuts for the next two years.

In total, 15,000 U.K.-based employees cast their votes on the cost-cutting measures and 70% of union members accepted the final deal.  While it’s terrible that the economy is in the toilet and anyone should have to make this kind of deal at all, at least the employees are included in the decision-making process and asked to buy into the final plan.  That’s a much better way to retain and nurture brand advocates than force-feeding a plan that hurts employees’ livelihoods and makes them feel like they work for a dictatorship.  While the corporate bureaucracy is certainly not a democracy, it’s nice to hear that Jaguar Land Rover made an effort to achieve a bipartisanship agreement.  Now, if only the U.S. government could do the same thing.

Your thoughts?

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
Comments

I wonder if the current state of the economy is the catalyst needed to really push telecommuting as a viable option for some of the more stodgy companies that insisted on having workers in the office and under thumb?

Also, rather than eliminating a full workday as they did here; a compressed 40-hour work week might be an option. Run the shop 7:00-6:00 on Mon-Thu and shut everything down on Fridays. That might be an easier pill to swallow than mandatory layoffs. I know this won’t work in many places, but the cost-savings in operating the office/facility alone might help prevent layoffs.

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