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Why Retrenching is a Bad Word and 5 Things All Employers Should be Doing in Good and Bad Times


A number of companies are using Barbados’ economic recession as an excuse to “retrench” workers. As a public relations practitioner, I avoid the word. I would advise all my clients never to use it. What you call something matters, and your reputation is tied to your words. Google retrench and it would return definitions such as “reduce or diminish”.  

Barbados has a long history of the elite reducing persons who are not born into privileged to “less than”. Words such as retrenched and layoff, slip off the tongues of many as if a person’s livelihood is not at stake.  Is it fact or fiction that a number of Barbadians are slipping into poverty and the ideal middle-class state in the region is merely just an idea? What role do businesses have to play in this?

Instead of how you can retrench shouldn’t you be thinking of how you can empower?  Especially the government, the departments that are overstaffed need to find humane ways to end the workers' contracts. This need to happen for the maintenance of a good reputation. Companies who empower employees, come out winners.  Check out Southwest, during the post 911 airline recession they kept on all their workers while other airlines “retrenched”— over 140,000 jobs were lost.1 Southwest was willing to go through the recession with its people, and that is why the currency value of its reputation is so high.

So, what’s my advice to companies:

  1. Treat your employees as partners

  2. Let them know you value their contribution

  3. Have honest conversations about the state of the company

  4. Do not take employees livelihood lightly, and

  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate


  1. Ward, R. September 11 and Restructuring the Airline Industry. Retrieved from http://dollarsandsense.org/archives/2002/0502ward.html

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