Remember when Gannett announced a new round of early retirement incentives aimed at cutting the numbers of senior (i.e. high-cost) staff? Well, the deadline is almost upon us. And apparently, not enough Gannetteers are volunteering.
The offer, for those just joining us, was open to staffers 55 or older, or who had at least 15 years’ seniority in the company. Employees with 25 years or more seniority would get two weeks’ pay per year of service (capped at 52 weeks’ pay); those with 15 to 25 years seniority would get 1.5 weeks’ pay per year. Vermont’s Gannett outlet, the Burlington Free Press, has some notable Olds on its masthead, including Mike Donoghue, Michael Townsend, and Aki Soga, who would presumably qualify for the gilded plank.
Last week, Gannett’s Chief People Officer (I kid you not; that’s his actual title) David Harmon sent a letter to all staff, reminding them that the deadline for this offer is Monday, October 12. And delivering some unsubtle hints that so far, enthusiasm for the offer has been less fulsome than expected.
We hope that those of you who have not accepted are giving careful consideration to this offering.
If we don’t achieve our goals, we will need to re-evaluate where we stand and we can’t rule out implementing other actions in the future.
Harmon closes with a reminder that “the program is completely voluntary,” which is nothing but eyewash. If they don’t get enough volunteers, the hammer’s coming down. And the next offer might not be so generous.
We’ll see if Harmon’s missive inspires a last-minute wave of ardor, or perhaps panic. Either would be acceptable as long as the corporation achieves its cost-cutting target. And we await with trepidation the impact of the buyout on the Free Press’ senior staff.