Chronicle of a Plant Closing
In January 1992, human resources manager Louise Moser Illes was notified, along with nine hundred co-workers, that the semiconductor plant where she worked would be closed by the end of the year. A month later, she began to document the process that she helped carry out and that left her without a job.
Closing a plant takes a heavy toll on the employees, the community, and the company management. While much has been written about the effects of plant shutdowns in the past three decades, Sizing Down is one of the first studies of the process itself. Illes uses her paradoxical perspective as a victim of downsizing charged with its orchestration to examine every phase of the shutdown and to draw out the constructive lessons that can be learned from the experience. What she learned at the Signetics semiconductor plant in Orem, Utah, has relevance for people caught in any reduction of personnel and facilities.
From the compelling stories of how individual employees responded and her own observations of the parent company, Illes teases out the most effective strategies to sustain worker morale. How did employees regain equilibrium in their working lives? Which management decisions helped retain the company's essential human resources and contributed to its overall financial health? What were the minor problems that went unnoticed until they grew difficult to manage? Illes includes an appendix of the questions asked of workers and managers, suggesting guidelines to minimize the disasters of sizing down.