Ford is axing more salaried jobs, the company confirmed to a Detroit newspaper on Wednesday.
Salaried workers in accounting, human resources and administrative support working at the automaker's world headquarters in Dearborn reportedly are being let go, sources confirmed to the Detroit Free Press. The information technology team in China has also reportedly seen reductions.
"We're not going to provide any numbers," Ford spokesman Said Deep told the 'Freep' on Wednesday in response to questions about the specific areas cut. "We will provide details once the process is complete in the second quarter."
"We are undergoing a smart redesign process that allows us to create a more dynamic, agile and empowered workforce. At the same time, we're becoming more fit as a business."
Deep declined to tell the paper when from April to the end of June (Ford's fiscal Q2) the company would announce the total number of jobs slashed. Asked if cuts were, in fact, happening on Wednesday, he declined to provide details.
"I can tell you that this whole redesign is going to reduce bureaucracy and empower our leaders to focus on the most value-added work and ensure we have the right cost structure around the world," he said. "Yes, the work has resulted in some separations of salaried employees and the reassignment of others. We expect the process to be completed in the second quarter and will make announcements at the appropriate time."
White collar workers have told the Free Press for months that the mood at Ford headquarters in Dearborn is palpably anxious. They describe "paralysing" tension waiting for job cuts and strategic decisions as the company's US$11bn restructuring slowly unfolds.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett acknowledged employee anxiety in an interview with the Free Press in February.
"I think it's totally fair," he said. "My mind wants to say, 'Is that because of the anxiety of the restructuring?' They're holding onto the ambiguity, saying, 'I don't know my status.' That is really unfair to our people to have to go through that. There's a trade, see. You end up with a lot better process from end to end if you involve the people actually in the design of what we're doing. When CEOs edict that we're just taking out x thousands of people, like you're mowing the lawn, it makes everyone feel like inanimate objects. Bill (Ford) and I care a lot more than that."
Ford employees who declined to be identified for fear of retribution told the paper they are bracing for cuts at the Product Development Center, as well as cuts of engineers working in buildings in Dearborn.
"Ford's operations need restructuring. We do not see restructuring at Ford as a 'nice to have'… but as a crucial step to set the global business on a more balanced footing," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote on 20 August, 2018.
He predicted a 12% cut in Ford staff worldwide, the Freep said.
Ford employs about 202,000 people worldwide. Analysts estimate separation costs, also called buyouts, to be roughly $120,000 per employee for Ford.
The Free Press said the wisdom of slowly cutting jobs over a period of months has been questioned, both internally and externally.
John McElroy, a long-time industry observer who hosts Autoline After Hours, said on Wednesday in response to the latest Ford news: "When it comes to laying off a bunch of people, the best thing to do is pull the Band-Aid [bandage] off right away and not tug at it slowly – which only increases the pain for everybody at the organisation."