Strategies for Closing a Plant the Right Way
Republic Windows and Doors' announcement on Wednesday December
3 that it would cease operations the following Friday wasn't taken
lightly by employees. Given only a couple days notice, workers staged
a sit in demanding their severance and vacation pay. According to
union officials, such short notice represented a violation of the
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which protects
workers, their families and communities by requiring most employers
with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days
in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. In the end, workers
and Republic reached a $1.75 million settlement.
Gene Grabowski, a senior vice president with Levick Strategic Communications
based in Washington, D.C., said that because of the current economic
conditions he expects to see even more plant closings and lay offs
in 2009. When it comes to these situations, there are three vital
steps employers and owners should follow.
"First, is communicating with the employees who may remain,
whether they are in the closing plant or other locations,"
says Grabowski. "It's vital that they are your first audience.
Be transparent and honest with them about what's going on
and give them more information-not less-in these circumstances."
The next step, Grabowski says, is communicating with the community
in which the plant is located, because closing a plant will affect
many people in that area.
"Speak to them as though they are family; be open and compassionate,"
Grabowski says, adding to also keep in mind that news travels fast
and will stay with the company, even years later when it may be
considering opening a new plant in another nearby community. "Be
aware of those existing and future circumstances [surrounding the
closing of a plant]."
The third key is being aware of how you communicate with the media
and Wall Street (if it applies).
"Make sure that the messages you communicate with the media
are the same as what you've told your employees and your community,"
he says, explaining that you may speak to the different groups with
different words, but the story needs to be the same. "Multiple
messages are a disaster, so be consistent."
HERE to read more tips from Levick Strategic Communications.
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