Limited Brand Workers Literally Work Graveyard Shift

Discussion
Sep 08, 2009
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

In an apparent
move to avoid layoffs, Limited Brands Inc. reassigned 25 warehouse employees
to help clean up Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, for the month of
August.

Spokeswoman
Tammy Roberts Myers told The Columbus Dispatch that
the workers were offered the alternate work option as a way to keep them
employed during the downturn. But it also was part of the retailer’s volunteerism
efforts. Limited Brands, the publicly-held owner of Victoria’s Secret and
Bath & Body Works, is based in Columbus.

“Limited Brands
passionately supports its associates in making a difference through volunteerism,” she
wrote in an e-mail to the newspaper. “This opportunity allowed us to support
our community while keeping our associates employed during a slower time
in the business. It was a positive outcome for everyone.”

The workers
were paid their normal salary by Limited Brands for their graveyard work.
The company also did not receive any tax credits or incentives for making
employees available.

The employees
cleared brush and vegetation from an iron fence that surrounds the 380-acre
cemetery. Part of fence at the 161-year-old graveyard was also painted.

“They made the
cemetery look so much better, and we’ve gotten several calls from customers
saying it looks great,” said Linda Burkey, Green Lawn’s general manager.
She noted that this is the first time a company had its employee work 40
hour shifts at the cemetery.

The article
noted that Ohio’s unemployment rate is 11.2 percent. Brian Harter, spokesman
for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said he didn’t know
of any statistics on companies pursuing alternative options for workers
during slow times.

“The situation
with the economy is so unique right now, companies are going to look for
different ways to do things,” Mr. Harter said.

Discussion
Questions: What do you think of Limited Brand’s move to find alternative,
volunteer work for its employees? As a shareholder, would you be happy
with the move?

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21 Comments on "Limited Brand Workers Literally Work Graveyard Shift"


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Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
11 years 7 months ago

It makes a lot of sense on several accounts. September is the Christmas peak time so they would need those people starting in September. To lay them off for a month is a costly transition for paperwork, unemployment compensation, etc. They may have not received tax credits but the benefits in PR and publicity are huge. Plus it was a good thing to do.

More companies need to look at ways to give back and not totally concentrate on the bottom line. As a shareholder in the community in which they were founded, they are a good corporate citizen and their shareholders publicly should be proud.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 7 months ago

Brilliant. What a great message to both the community and the employee. I applaud them. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that more companies could take the high road?

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 7 months ago

This is a great idea, and something that more companies ought to do. Sometimes, providing the best shareholder value might mean being a better corporate citizen, rather than simply having a better bottom line. Sure it would be easier to simply lay off the employees and save the salaries to improve the company’s profitability. But the right thing to do is to do everything the company can to keep the employees working, and allowing them to provide community service while still on the corporate payroll makes everyone a winner. The company looks great, the employees keep their income, and the cemetery gets cleaned up.

Other companies can learn from this. Kudos to Limited Brands for doing the right thing.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

At first blush, this looks like a really great idea. Corporate Social Responsibility at its purest. However, am I missing something in that the company is still paying full wages to these folks? How does this help the company get through its downturn? I’ve seen reduced hours just to keep the people on that payroll, however, this may not help The Limited get through the challenge if the labor expense stays the same.

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This must be viewed by the company as a marketing investment. Much as Sears garnered substantial goodwill through publicity for its support of our military (National Guard in particular) during deployment, the caring public will react well to such an obvious investment by the Limited. Great move on both the altruistic and commercial levels.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This may appear to be a waste of company resources and a slap in the face to stockholders. However, it might be cheaper in the long run, depending on the status of the employees. For example, if an employee is off on disability because of blurry vision and he can’t read his computer monitor; maybe it’s better having him push a broom someplace rather than lounging at home and sending him a check for nothing.

Like the article said, it’s a good way to keep employees busy during the slow times. Perhaps it’s better getting them outdoors and doing something that promotes the company in a positive light rather than playing on the Internet all day. With modern technology, there are skilled jobs in offices that really only require 3-4 hours of work a day but you still must keep the employees full time. I would only disagree with this program if it truly took money from the stockholders.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Wow. Everyone wins. I think I’ll go check out a Limited store….

Michelle Fenstermaker
Guest
Michelle Fenstermaker
11 years 7 months ago

Do not underestimate the power of goodwill in the minds of consumers. In these uncertain times, we need something to feel good about and I applaud Limited Brands for their creativity and commitment to the community.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This is a win win for everyone, even the stock holders.

1. Great PR. A company that people want to do business with and a place where people want to work. (How much play will they get out of this as the economy gets better?)

2. It will help recruiting in today’s TOUGH RECRUITING MARKET. I put that in caps because most of you would not think that recruiting today is tough. But the “A” players are not changing jobs because they are all hunkering down.
3. They are living their values and actions speak louder than words.
4. One of my customer values says “We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.” Well here is a great example.
5. The smart investors are not saying “Look how you wasted our money.” They are saying “I want to own more of the stock in a company that does things like this.”

Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

I don’t know, seems like mis-guided P.R. stunt to me. Cleaning up a graveyard? I totally get the ‘community’ thing and the potentially positive buzz it may create, but I think–as a shareholder–I’d rather see those people working to improve process, or quality, or local stores vs. something like that. Let’s try and make the business better, please!

Plus, what does that do for morale? Can you imagine your boss coming up to you and asking you to go out and paint a fence? Personally, I’d take a better severance any day–let me get on with my life, Tom Sawyer.

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Limited Brands is probably one of the best-run organizations in retail, and it starts at the very top. Les Wexner is not only a great merchant, but an astute businessman and visionary who has navigated the company through some very challenging environments through the years. The current environment is probably the most challenging anyone has ever seen, and everyone has cut their all important knowledge workers dramatically, including Limited Brands.

I see this move as a way to hold onto those that are left, and not cutting more of these workers which would put them at a disadvantage in the recovery.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Like most everyone else, I think this was an excellent move for all those involved. But disappointed to see that no matter what good moves businesses try to make there are always a couple of cynics who just don’t get it.

Dawne Richards
Guest
Dawne Richards
11 years 7 months ago

I think this is wonderful, and an example of how we should all be pulling together. The “shareholder opinion” mentality is partly what got us into this mess–short-term profits, consequences be damned. It’s a great example for all of us to follow. In terms of employee loyalty–an intangible that is invaluable–it’s got to win points.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Alternative work in a down period is not new and has real economic value. One choice is to lay off the workers and then try to hire them back when work picks up. This does not build a loyal labor team. I have seen employers use excess labor to paint the building and do other work that might normally be contracted out.

Most employees like the break in doing something different. Making a difference in the community helps recruit future employees and makes you the preferred employer. Preferred employers rarely have to pay above market wages, have a ready pool to choose from and most of the time, don’t have any union problems. Yes, it costs more short term, but not long term.

Tim Smith
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

A comment earlier stated that they needed these workers back in September for the seasonal build up. By keeping these folks on the payroll, they lessen the risk of losing employees who find work elsewhere, then having costs associated with having to hire/train a replacements. For one month it feels like a win all the way around.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This is in fact an inspired solution regardless of the motives attached to it. Workers stay employed. The company gets good PR. The community is improved. Sounds like three perfect outcomes to me.

William Passodelis
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This is GREAT — A win for Limited Brand workers and a WIN for the local municipality and they get to keep these experienced workers around to have in the holiday season as well!

Very ingenious. Congrats to Limited Brands for good thinking.

Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
11 years 7 months ago

Seems like a noble idea. Just thinking; if a worker didn’t feel comfortable working in a graveyard (it is a bit creepy, but some religions would considerate it wrong) or if a person wasn’t physically able to mow lawns or scrub gravestones, what happens then? How about instead of assigning graveyard duty, coming up with something maybe more useful like volunteering to read or clean a local school or hospital where the “residents” can see and appreciate it?

Debbie Tewes
Guest
Debbie Tewes
11 years 7 months ago

Congratulations to Limited Brands for making their employee’s welfare a priority. More companies would do well to follow suit.

Kai Clarke
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Great for Limited Brands! All companies should support and compensate their employees in giving back to the community when it makes fiscal sense. Everyone wins and workers can develop a better sense of rewarding the community in which they live by enhancing the levels of their participation and of course finding ways to give back. Best yet, the company finds and rewards employees who are community minded, thus they are active stakeholders in the corporate community as well.

Scott Knaul
Guest
Scott Knaul
11 years 7 months ago

I think this does two things: garners community goodwill and helps in recruiting.

The goodwill is obvious in that the company is helping the community. I think recruiting is fairly obvious as well in that Limited Brands can hold onto its top talent and not have to go out and hire and train new associates. It also sends a message to the labor pool that this is a company that is supportive of their associates and is working to protect them. If I’m looking for a job this is a company I would apply to.

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