Just last week I wrote about companies employing cost-cuttting measures such as across-the-board salary reductions or shorter work weeks to avoid or at least minimize layoffs.
In that spirit, a UK non-profit called WorkWise has introduced a Web site called StaffShare that offers to help companies loan out their employees to charitable organizations -- at a reduced salary, I presume -- rather than laying them off. According to ITPro, the idea is that companies will list qualifications of staff members whom they wish to make available for short- and medium-term assignments elsewhere.
ITPro cites a statement from the Trade Union Congress, a group that represents 58 UK unions:
The TUC hopes that lots of organizations sign up to this innovative scheme, which will keep people in employment whilst allowing third sector organizations to draw on specialist expertise.
(Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any of the links on the site to work, which restricted my ability to get more details on how such a scheme might work.) However, I wonder if the idea is similar to one employed by networking giant Cisco in 2001.
As described in my recent story on layoff alternatives, some 80 Cisco employees participated in a program called Cisco Community Fellows, during which they worked for nonprofits for a year, pulling down a third of their usual wages, rather than cutting ties with the company. During that time, they received employee benefits, vesting and access to training and continuing education. If jobs opened up, the fellows enjoyed an advantage over external candidates. If their years of service ended without placement in another Cisco job, they remained on Cisco's rolls for an additional 60 days while job hunting.
One of the folks I interviewed for my story, Cissy Pau of Canada's Clear HR Consulting, says it makes little sense for companies to lay off employees they might recently have worked hard to woo when available jobs outnumbered qualified candidates. She told me:
What companies have learned, I think, is that they've had to stand out as a great employer. As economic conditions worsen, I think this still plays in the back of their minds. They'll still need to be an employer of choice in tough times because when things turn around, they'll need to be able to attract people.