Commentary

Hearst's Employee Buyouts Will Help To Avert Job Cuts

Hearst Magazines found almost 120 employees who accepted a buyout offer extended to its sales and marketing staff. The acceptance rate for the offer should be high enough to avert deeper cuts as the automation of the digital ad market drives a shift in sales strategies.

The publisher of titles including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle last month offered a buyout to 600 employees among its total work force of 2,200. Hearst will effectively reduce its headcount by 5% with the buyouts, the New York Post reported.

With 120 out of 600 employees volunteering to take the buyout, its acceptance rate of 20% is on the higher end of the scale. Typically, companies can expect an acceptance rate of 2%-3%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
But Hearst's terms were also generous — offering three weeks of pay for every year of service, along with continued health insurance for 12 to 18 months. That offer should be especially appealing to older workers who are either nearing retirement or are optimistic about their job prospects as the economy continues to recover.

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While buyouts are costly in the short term, they can soften the blow of layoffs that hurt morale among remaining workers, who are given more responsibilities.

Hearst last year distinguished itself for not cutting jobs as other publishers reduced headcount in response to the steep drop in media spending during the onset of the pandemic. Rival publishers, including Conde Nast, Meredith, BuzzFeed and Vice Media, either cut jobs, furloughed workers or reduced executive pay to weather the health crisis.
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