Executives will be facing increasingly complex challenges during the next decade. These challenges will be the result of high escalation factors for salaries and raw materials, increased union demands, pressure from stockholders, and the possibility of long-term high inflation accompanied by a mild recession and a lack of borrowing power with financial institutions. These environmental conditions have existed before, but not to the degree that they do today.
In the past, executives have attempted to ease the impact of these environmental conditions by embarking on massive cost-reduction programs. The usual results of these programs have been early retirement, layoffs, and a reduction in manpower through attrition. As jobs become vacant, executives pressure line managers to accomplish the same amount of work with fewer resources, either by improving efficiency or by upgrading performance requirements to a higher position on the learning curve. Because people costs are more inflationary than the cost of equipment or facilities, executives are funding more and more capital equipment projects in an attempt to increase or improve productivity without increasing labor.
Unfortunately, executives are somewhat limited in how far they can go to reduce manpower without ...