Select Page

Ford CEO Jim Hackett has talked about a turnaround at the automaker and now it looks like it's happening.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett has talked about making the automaker a more “fit” company going forward, and now it’s clear what that means: salaried job cuts.

The automaker is “redesigning” its white collar workforce to be leaner, have few layers and offer the remaining employees more power to make decisions, and implement those decisions more quickly.

Currently, Ford employs 70,000 salaried workers, among its more than 285,000 overall employees worldwide. Of that total, about 85,000 work in the U.S. The number of jobs that will be cut is unknown at this point as the plan is still be formulated.

“We need to dig into the process deeper before we know the absolutes,” said Mark Truby, vice president, global communications at Ford, told the Detroit Free Press. “What we’ve kicked off is a redesign of our global salaried workforce –in North America, Europe, Asia, South America. … ”

(Ford promises to be more transparent about turnaround. For the story, Click Here.)

Ford's restructuring plans will likely mean hundreds, if not more, job cuts for salaried employees.

The automaker revealed the plan to employees on Thursday. They were told that it will be a company-wide assessment to determine how to cut bloated bureaucracies and shoring up weaker areas. No area will be exempt, officials said.

The upside is that employees will be involved in the formulation of the plan. They will be surveyed for their thoughts and suggestions to help ensure the company gets it right. There is no time table for completion of the plan, but changes should start coming by the second quarter of next year and will be announced as decisions are made, Truby said. The employee communication made no mention of shutting down any facilities.

“At the highest level, this is really about changing the way we work,” said Kiersten Robinson, Ford group vice president and chief human resources officer, the Freep reported.

(Click Here for more about Ford’s mobility plans and its new Detroit campus.)

“You’ve heard (CEO) Jim Hackett talk about fitness and how we need to be more responsive, innovative, agile. Given that, it’s really important when you consider how we modernize the workforce, skills and capabilities we need. Yesterday we shared with our global employees that we’re in the early stages of re-organizing the salaried workforce. This is designed to help us become more fit as a business.”

The process is not about cutting headcount as much as figuring out who is needed, what is needed and where resources must be devoted, she said.

The move is likely to be greeted warmly by the investor community. Hackett, who cut more than 12,000 jobs as head of office furniture maker Steelcase, was expected to do this even sooner, according to some observers. He’d been there about 18 months and Ford is an old-school company with an ambitious plan to cut car production and shifting to SUV and truck products so this kind of change makes sense, said Ivan Drury, senior manager of industry analysis at Edmunds.

(To see more about Ford’s plans for its autonomous vehicle unit, Click Here.)

“If I worked on the Fusion or Focus, well, I would be afraid my job is at risk. If I’m working on the Lincoln Navigator, which is making a lot of profit, I don’t worry so much. But there is always an initial wave of fear, frustration, confusion. It can be positive in the end,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press.