“What is THAT?”

An interesting article caught my eye while browsing current events…“Wisconsin company announces layoffs ahead of Biden arrival.” The gist of the story is this; Oshkosh Corp., a major trucking manufacturer in (you guessed it) Oshkosh, WI, has made the decision to layoff 450 employees to respond to expected revenue losses. Layoffs are a part of the industry life for an HR professional, so it behooves us to learn from the circumstances and/or mistakes of companies who are forced to take adverse action with their employee base. For a company like Oshkosh, this represents a 12% reduction in the workforce, a significant cut for any company.

The reaction is to respond to expected losses due to government spending reductions in 2013, as proposed reductions in defense spending take effect.

The interesting facet of the decision is the timing of the announcement which was announced just hours before Laughing Joe Biden was set to arrive in the local community. Both presidential candidates and their respective #2’s are busy making the final push for support in the key swing states for the 2012 election. Certainly a link will be established between the Democrat’s plan to reduce defense spending and the impact to the local community.

What does this mean to the HR professional? Well, it means your responsibilities include awareness of the internal and external landscape that surround you. What is the segmentation of your revenue base? What contingency planning is in effect should a major client or business channel be eliminated or reduced? What legal or political decisions loom in the short & long-term, and what impact will those decisions have on your employee population?

These are the actions of a “business partner.” These are the conversations you pursue with your internal clients, and these are the articles that should catch your eye.


John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™! To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site: