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Help!: What do you see as alternatives to layoffs? Our six partners (we’re 100 people total) reduced comp to $0 to save and it’s not enough. 25% of staff is unbooked (high!) with no end in near sight.

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May be out of my league here. Coming in from a staff perspective, if you had an honest conversation with me about the current situation and give me a couple of options - either being laidoff or reduce my salary until you are back up and in the course help save the Company and other people from being laid off. I would always choose second option. This way, even if they quit at later stage, you will get your target of less overhead along with less severance pay Essentially what you are doing is making me feel that im important part of the company and treating me like I'm a partner as well eventhough im not. I will forever be grateful. If people are underperforming, then just cut them out.

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Another helpful answer and discussion. Thank you all. I’ll add this to the list of suggestions I have, and we’ll definitely be working with our lawyer to choose the best option.

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I think sometimes layoffs are inevitable. Maybe a practice grew too fast and the pipeline has now slowed down. I think what would be best and would give people the highest chance of getting a job is again is letting them know as soon as possible so they can make preparations for a layoff. For example I’m planning on taking a large vacation in December. If I knew I was being laid off I would not take that vacation, but rather save the money and start looking for a new job. That’s just my 2 cents. Sometimes it’s just better to be upfront and honest rather than trying to find a band-aid solution to a problem.

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I came here looking for help — it’s in the title — not snarky responses. This answer fits that, along with a few other answers as well.

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Unpaid sabbaticals

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Definitely. I’ve heard this a few times in this thread and it wasn’t something we thought of. I’ll be giving it a try.

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A). Immediately stop or limit non-revenue generating expenses (e.g. travel for training, IT upgrades, etc.) and allow work-from-home where appropriate to limit travel expenses B) Communicate situation to employees and open a direct line to partners (you’ll be amazed at the ideas that arise when a person’s livelihood is on the line) C) Double-Down on follow-on or extension projects with existing clients D) Consider partnering (or even selling) to a larger firm in your industry that may be short-staffed E) Incentivize top performers to not abandon ship by increasing future bonus potential (obviously based on consultant and company performance, and strength of future pipeline of work) F) Incentivize ALL employees for new work sold; if analyst Billy has an uncle who works for a Fortune 500 company and Billy’s connection leads to a rapid project, pay Billy a bonus based on project size and success. G) Layoffs may be necessary and warranted: analyze revenue-per-employee (where applicable), and cut any clear under-performers, starting with the highest paid first H) Cut lower-level consultant under-performers based on recent performance reviews I) You either enter the death spiral, or take the opportunity to “trim the fat” and operate more efficiently in the future.

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Disclaimer: I’ve never actually executed anything like what I laid out above, so I can’t speak to it’s effectiveness nor the potential unintended consequences. Just a happy little brainstorm that I thought might help. :)

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By the way, it’s awesome you’re considering your people. So many other partners would just cut staff without thinking twice.

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We definitely try our best, and I hope our team sees and understands this.

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There should not be anyone on the bench. Focus on the sales and go to market. Develop collaterals and supporting material. Under sell couple of projects to keep people busy. Do not let people go as the market is running very hot. They will get the one easily.

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That’s not a short-term option which is why I’m here asking for help.

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Do you have a line of credit? Considered voluntary buyouts? Offering reduced pay leave of absences?

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If you offer buyouts, the people who were thinking of leaving anyways will leave, and then you buy yourself some breathing room to avoid laying off the rest. I admire that you build a firm with little to no need to credit, and I could see why you’d want to remain that’s way, but with 25% of your payroll being nonproductive, you know something has to change.

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Not sure we can provide great advice without additional context and information. What kind of business? Why hasn’t the pipeline been primed, especially since the lead time is so long, how is your employee pay compared to the market? What’s your client concentration? By name? By industry?

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Technology, and we had a huge project fall through that would have staffed about half of the unbooked people right now. Nothing else is near closing stages. It’s been a slower year for us, which yes, is something we are working on.

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Get out there and start selling work!

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Doing this. Lead time for our specific projects is months, not weeks.

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Have you tried selling? Seriously, if you can’t sell, nobody eats.

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What’s selling? ——— I’m looking for help, not snark. The word help is the first word in the title.

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Go sell work. Why do you just keep laying off people.

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Why do I “just keep” laying off people? We’ve never laid anyone off before in our six years of existing so I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

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Are there any non-billable roles you can get away with eliminating? Low performers you can cull? Reduce non-billable costs? Improve cash collections from existing clients? I’d be looking to make changes anywhere you can that improve your financial situation. What you don’t want to have happen is a cash flow crunch where you can’t make payroll and need to do something crazy like personally pledge assets.

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We have two people in marketing, one in HR, and one office coordinator. Those are the only unbillable roles at our company. We’ve tried to keep unbillable people at a minimum, so there’s not much that can be done here without having a big effect elsewhere.

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You can only cut costs to $0, raise revenues

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move people who don't do your work off your p and l - when things get better, they can realign.

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Can you subcontract your skilled people to another vendor who is looking for skills, who have sold but dont have people? Loaner kind of arrangement for a temporary basis?

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Thanks! We will.

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Can you list the skills here and see if any of the firms can work with your firm directly or thru a 3rd party? Who knows who is struggling with need for skilled people?

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