Best Practices: Saving Money, Adding Experience
When Rick Wise’s in-plant was downsized a few years ago, he quickly learned that just because his staff size shrank, didn’t mean his workload would too.
Wise, director of Printing Services for the University of Missouri in Columbia, went through a combination of layoffs and voluntary resignations that reduced his staff of 64 full-time employees to 50. To keep up with the demands placed on an in-plant at a major university, he knew he had to get creative.
To bring more hands into the shop while keeping expenses down, Wise brought on a variety of part-time employees. Some were retirees looking for some supplemental income; others were permanent part time employees, not eligible for benefits.
“We needed to shore up the gaps of downsizing, which is painful to deal with,” Wise explains. “With the economic challenges with in-plants, it’s necessary to have these tools in the arsenal.”
The in-plant recovered much of the manpower lost in the downsizing, and did it at a bargain. Salaries were down because of the limited number of hours worked and benefit costs were not a concern since part timers were not benefit eligible.
Bringing in retirees also spared the in-plant training time. Since the retirees were already familiar with the shop and the work, they could step right in to wherever they were needed.
While having knowledgeable retirees return to the print shop was helpful, particularly in the bindery and warehouse, Wise said he also found it extremely valuable to have these employees take on some deliveries. Driving a large truck around a busy college campus, which houses about 35,000 students, is no easy task. Adding drivers with knowledge of the school and the routes was important from both speed and safety perspectives.
“With 35,000 students changing class on the hour, this was extremely helpful,” Wise says.
The experience and additional manpower also comes into play when an unexpected work surge arises. First, it provides relief for full-timers who, in the past, would have been stuck shouldering the entire load. Second, it results in a cost savings since the university does not end up shelling out overtime pay.
“It’s a sign of the times,” Wise states. “You used to be able to hire more people when you got busy.”