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Key Practice Area - Staffing & Structure - EHS and Sustainability Management Structures and Staffing
Key Practice Area: Staffing & Structure

EHS and Sustainability Management Structures and Staffing

April 2011

Learn how to manage critical human resource issues, while still creating an environment that achieves your company's goals.


The economy presents significant challenges company’s leadership in all areas of the organization. Your company may be experiencing a reduction in force and benefits, a hiring freeze, bonus payment suspension, or a number of other cost saving measures that affect your ability to attract and retain talent. In this section, you will find:

Key Takeaways: Learn key Strategies from NAEM’s September 2010, "Exploring EHS and Sustainability Management Structures and Staffing” webinar.

Webinar: "Exploring EHS and Sustainability Management Structures and Staffing” This webinar from September 2010 features presentations by:

  • James Strock, President, James Strock & Co.
  • Stephen Walker, Senior Partner, Foushée Group Inc

Key Takeaways

Keys to Effectively Cutting Costs

Top 8 list of things that may affect compensation programs

  • Reduction in workforce: One of the most difficult events to go through as a leader
  • Unfilled requisitions and hiring freezes
  • Annual merit increases reduced, delayed or canceled
  • Suspension of bonus payments
  • Benefits reduction (401K match or higher premiums)
  • Forced vacations due to plant closure
  • Unpaid time-off
  • Travel cutbacks and requisitions

Recommended Strategies

1. Reduction in workforce:

  • Determine the percentage of your total payroll that needs to be reduced
  • Take the percent reduction and turn into a dollar figure
  • Does this dollar figure include benefit costs or bonus targets
  • Determine which positions are most critical for the unit’s success
  • Determine which individuals are key to the unit’s success. Rate each individual in each position by level of performance, taking into consideration such items as level of experience, contribution/accountability, compensation/market, overall job performance
  • Determine which individuals could or would take early retirement
  • Slice the pyramid vertically as opposed to horizontally
  • Concentrate on employee morale, retention

2. Unfilled requisitions and hiring freeze

  • Attempt to fill only those positions that are "critical” and know what the compensation market target is for the job
  • After hiring freeze, spread additional work load amongst other staff and members
  • Recognize employees for any additional work load
  • Prioritize your open positions and work with your recruiter

3. Annual Merit Increases Reduced, Delayed or Canceled:

  • Calibrate the level to pay to the competitive market data for all positions
  • Determine where each individual is compared to the competitive market target
  • Identify the top performers
  • Determine which individuals are fully competent, but not paid to the market
  • Do not provide increases to those that are significantly above market
  • Have a clear strategy for addressing poor performers
  • Target your top performers at all levels first, then target fully competent individuals that are not paid to market
  • If increases are cancelled, determine an "end date” or when merit increases will resume
  • Also consider if any merit increases will be retroactive

4. Suspension of Bonus payments

  • At the senior level, determine if you can defer a bonus award

5. Benefits Reduction (401K match and higher premiums)

  • Encourage employees to continue their contribution until company matches return
  • Ask employees to evaluate their benefit selection plan to reduce employee costs; i.e. higher deductibles, HMO versus doctor selection, etc.

6. Forced Vacation Due to Plant Closure

  • Communicate plans as early as possible on any closure

7. Unpaid Time Off

  • Provide the maximum employee notice of any planned unpaid time off

8. Travel Cutbacks and Perquisites

  • Communicate new travel guidelines (lodging, air, food, car rental) and lead by example
  • Cancel any memberships, seminars, outside meetings and credit cards when appropriate

Summary of Strategies

  • Communicate any changes to all levels of all employees
  • Motivate entire team, create a positive working environment
  • Retain your top performing employees during difficult times


Click here to view the September 2010 "Exploring EHS and Sustainability Management Structures and Staffing” webinar presentations. This content is freely available to NAEM members only.

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