U.S. furniture manufacturer Herman Miller announced that 300 workers would be losing their jobs. These layoffs are due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The pandemic has caused the shutdown of companies worldwide and a halt to the global economy. All affected workers at Herman Miller are full-time employees.

Job Cuts At Herman Miller

Overall, the 300 job cuts equated to approximately less than five percent of the company’s overall global workforce. This reduction is tied to the business downturn related to the pandemic. The executive staff took a 10% pay cut in March, according to company spokesperson Nick Butterfield. The company also took multiple other cost-cutting measures, such as temporarily suspending raises and contributions to employee retirement funds. Dividends were also suspended.

However, Butterfield warned that these cuts might not be the only ones the company needs to make. If the economic impact of coronavirus continues, the company could be forced to make additional cuts. The current job cuts are expected to save the company over 32 million dollars.

Employees who were part of the cuts did receive support from the company. Butterfield stated that they have been provided with a salary continuation, mental and emotional support, along with career transition services. 

“We will continue to respond to this challenging situation with the health of both our employees and company top-of-mind” Butterfield is quoted as saying.

Not all jobs that were reduced were involuntary. The company was able to use voluntary reductions as well per their May 14th SEC filing. This filing also noted that the workforce reductions applied to both their North American and International workforces. SEC filings are required before a company conducts a round of layoffs.

Herman Miller Activities During The Shut Down

Due to restrictions in Michigan, all non-essential manufacturing activities were shut down. However, Herman Miller found a way to use their factory and help with the pandemic. The factory converted its operations to manufacture medical products and PPE. Those items were, and continue to be, in short supply. 30% of factory employees returned to work on PPE manufacturing.

The company will be ending this production as they are allowed to resume manufacturing of their product. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has allowed factories to return to work.

During the shutdown of the factory, employees who were not working were paid a combination of wages and vacation time. No one went without pay during the suspension of production. 

Michigan was hit particularly hard during the Covid-19 outbreak. As of May 15th, the state had over 50,000 coronavirus cases and almost 5000 deaths. Statewide stay at home orders don’t end until June 8th. Masks and face coverings are required in public indoor spaces for the duration of the stay-at-home order.

Western Michigan was hit even harder by Covid-19. Case growth rates were triple the state average during April. Experts believe this area should have hit its peak, and cases should begin to decline going forward. 

About Herman Miller

Herman Miller is a furniture manufacturing company headquartered in the U.S. state of Michigan. The company provides furnishings and products for both home and commercial office space. The company is most well known for its line of office chairs that focus on ergonomics and long term comfort.

Herman Miller uses what is called a “human-centered” approach to the creation of its products. The company studies people and their physical qualities to help design and create their pieces. This type of design helps their product be more ergonomically sound.