I work for a NASDAQ listed American based company in the consumer packaged goods industry. Our products are sold through mass retail outlets including companies like Walmart, Best Buy, Lowes, etc. The business environment of the past few years has been very difficult to say the least.
Our company has had to take some very drastic measures in order to survive. In our fiscal year 2009, the company lost money for the third consecutive year and we were facing a similar fate going into our fiscal 2010 (which just ended). All of our employees were facing the loss of their jobs if something didn't change and change fast.
In 2008, it began. A series of reductions of employees was undertaken. We eliminated over 10% of our total workforce during the rounds of cutbacks that followed. No level was exempted from VP's on down. The red ink didn't stop however.
To prevent further reductions in force, the company instituted salary cuts and wage freezes for all employees. Everyone lost a minimum of 10% of their salary with some as much as 25%. Matching contributions to 401k programs were ended and other employee benefits were eliminated or reduced.
This was not easy on any of us. In addition to everyone having to work harder and increase individual productivity; as individuals, we had to rework our budgets at home. We changed vacation plans, eliminated entertainment options, cut back on gift giving and eating out among many other efforts. However, those of us who kept our jobs mostly felt blessed not lose them completely as so many of our friends had.
Capitalizing on an unusal market circumstance, we were able to meet our revenue and profit objects for our fiscal year 2010. The company earned a profit for the first time in four years. This profit just offset the loss of the previous year. As a result, the company paid a one time bonus equal to the salary that employees gave up and reinstated half of the lost salary except for management which neither received the bonus or the salary.
Reflecting on these harsh but necessary realities to keep our company going, I am struck by the disparity between what the private sector and the federal government's experience of the recession has been.
In the midst of ever increasing red ink, the number of Federal Employees is growing. They are receiving salary and benefit increases each year. The government with no one to answer to but themselves continues to spend in ever increasing amounts that add to the problem drastically.
As the bosses (voters) of this enterprise; I suggest we demand a change. Take whatever draconian efforts are necessary but get the business of government under control. Cut jobs. Reduce pay. Reduce benefits. Stop frivolous spending and pork. Ignore special interests and focus on the special interests of the American people. Incent those who save money and eliminate those who can't. Don't put in any new programs that can not be paid for in the year the program exists. Don't spend money set aside for something else. Don't spend anything else that requires borrowing. Cut $2 for every $1 of new spending.
By the way, the answer isn't take more from us the American people. The answer is spend less.