Don’t Circle the Wagons....

Rod Stephens
December 3, 2008 — 1,941 views  
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When tough economic times hit, it is easy to succumb to the tendency to cut every program that is not essential. Often these cost cutting measures target training, employment manual reviews/revisions and annual policy reviews. The justification for these measures is that money is tight and these things can wait. It is reminiscent of the person that stops changing the oil in their car because times are tough. You can do it but, eventually, you will pay the price either in the form of major repairs, lost vehicle longevity or both. The same holds true for your business. There may be short term benefits in cutting these programs, but in the long term you will spend more money than you saved.

What gets lost in this discussion is that policies and procedures, handbooks and training are the mechanisms that allow your company to communicate its expectations to its workforce. They also provide you with the foundation for defenses that can be asserted in the context of litigation. It is precisely at times like these, when business is down, that you need your workforce to work at its optimum level. Valuable human and financial resources do not need to be wasted responding to audits and inquiries from administrative agencies or defending lawsuits when proactive mechanism could have stopped these events from occurring.

So how do you do this when the money just isn’t coming in like it used to? Here are five things to consider:

1. Web based training.

Many law firms, including my firm, provide web training for employers that allow employees to log in and participate from any location. This type of training can be conducted live or via a prepared video presentation. This allows training to be conducted at times most convenient to the employee while minimizing or eliminating travel costs.

2. Consider policy reviews at departmental meetings.

In an ideal world, your lawyer would like to see you conduct periodic training on all aspects of your employment manual for management and non-management employees. If you have been diligent in training in the past and now the budget is tight, consider periodic reviews of policies by each department head. Make sure your department heads have a thorough understanding of the topic  they will be discussing and provide them with a presenter’s package that includes relevant policies, frequently asked questions, and a PowerPoint presentation.

3. Hire a law firm to perform an annual review of policies and procedure.

Many law firms will offer a flat rate package for them to review your policies and procedures, including wage and hour practices. More often than not this will be offered at a reduced rate.

4. Consider using in-house or your company’s general counsel to provide training.

It’s always nice to bring in a well respected speaker to train to your workforce. Let’s face it, in these difficult times that may not be an option. Instead, consider using someone from your in house counsel’s office or from the office of outside counsel. More often than not you will be surprised by the talent you have available that can offer training that fits within your budget.

5. Monitor government websites and relevant Blogs.

I never cease to be amazed by the sheer volume of information that is available on the web. Often the information contained on a reliable Blog can be the source of periodic internal newsletter updates. It is not a substitute for training, but sometimes, when the money just isn’t there it will have to do.

Finally, I would be like hear of some of the ways your company has modified your training and policy review processes in these difficult times. The more we can exchange ideas, the better off we all are.



Rod Stephens


Rod brings a unique perspective to the table in that he represents management and employees. We feel this allows us to offer a broader perspective to our clients in that we understand cutting edge employment law issues and how they are perceived by management and employees. Employment law matters can require immediate response in times of crisis. On those occasions, you can take comfort in the knowledge that we are prepared to provide the type of response that takes advantage of years of experience.