I Used to Work In an Orange Juice Factory Until I got Canned

They said I couldn’t concentrate.
Funny joke maybe, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there more than 2,000 layoff actions in September with 236,000 employees involved. And October didn’t seem to offer any consolation. From American Express, Disney, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo, corporate layoffs were in the news every day.

According to the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker, more than 40,000 tech workers were laid off for the month.

I’m thinking about layoffs because I went to a Crain’s breakfast meeting on Thursday, entitled Managing Talent In A Turbulent Economy. I guess I was hoping to hear how companies keep their current employees committed and upbeat through the change. Unfortunately, the keynote speaker Kevin Ryan, the founder and former CEO of global Internet advertising company DoubleClick who was supposed to talk about how you manage talent through the ups and downs of various economic cycles, did nothing but offer advice on how to fire employees.

One bright spot of the morning- Renee Russell, the executive director for global talent management at Avon Products. She had to work through a period when Avon completely changed its business model and turned the company upside down.

Renee was articulate, experienced and poised as she offered advice on how to keep employees engaged while they took on more work with no increased financial compensation. “Think of every new opportunity as a way to gain new skills that will make you more marketable to an employer.”

Today’s crisis will not diminish the demographic data that supports fierce competition for talented people to lead companies through these changes. While all the headlines may be focused on the impact of the credit crunch on the ability of companies to expand, the talent crunch could be just as serious.

A good communication strategy during these difficult times can help avoid Suvivor’s Syndrome and keep employees connected, safe and more productive through the storm of 2008.

And by the way, while I didn’t really work in an Orange Juice factory, I did work in a Popcorn Factory. I spent my time dreaming of a butter future.

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