Layoffs at Thomas Nelson

I hesitated about blogging on this. But it’s kind of the “elephant” in the room. I think I owe it to you, my readers, to blog about the good things as well as the difficult.

Change Meter

As you may have read in Publishers Weekly or the Tennessean, yesterday we laid off slightly less than 10% of our workforce. This was not an easy decision. It fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say this was one of the most difficult decisions of my tenure Thomas Nelson.

Of course, layoffs are not that notable, especially in the current economy. You can’t open the paper without reading about companies laying off thousands and—in some cases—tens of thousands of employees. Sadly, it’s now become routine. Until it happens to you. Or someone you care about.

But, honestly, our layoffs weren’t the result of the economy. They didn’t happen because we had a bad year. (Our fiscal year ended March 31.) To be sure, it wasn’t a great year. But it was decent. We saw modest growth on the top line (about 4%) and really good growth on the bottom line (about 14%).

So then, if it wasn’t the economy, why did we feel the need to layoff these good people? Because we have changed our business strategy:

  • As I have previously announced, we are cutting our new title introductions in half for this year.
  • This change is designed to align us with a shift in the marketplace toward fewer titles generating more of the sales. It will also enable us to invest most of our resources where we can generate the biggest returns.
  • Since we cutting the number of titles we are publishing, we are also adjusting our overall business model and reducing our overhead.
  • Therefore, we have made a modest reduction in the size of our workforce.

Albeit difficult, we believe these changes will put us in a better position to deliver on our promise to inspire the world with inspiring products. With a 50% cut in our new title output and a slight reduction in our workforce, we believe we will be able to allocate even more resources to each title. This is our goal.

Honestly, I hate layoffs. The people affected are our friends. I know this is painful for them. As a result, we are doing everything we can to ease their transition. We believe we have offered fair severance packages (with a one-month minimum) and excellent outplacement services.

Most of the employees affected will be at the company until Friday. During this time, I want to make them feel loved and appreciated. These are good people, who performed well—they have much yet to offer.

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