Small business uses Shared Work to get through slow seasons, deter turn over
CENTERTOWN - A small, tight-knit crew at Longfellow’s Garden Center works together year after year to beautify landscapes in Central Missouri, but Owner Alice Longfellow says the picture would be different if Missouri’s Shared Work program wasn’t there to help during slow seasons.
“It is exactly what we need,” Longfellow said of the program. “It has been a win, win.”
Missouri’s Shared Work program benefits thousands of Missourians working at large corporations each year, but it also improves the landscape of employment for small, locally owned businesses like Longfellow’s throughout the state.
Shared Work is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work. It allows an employer to divide available work among employees instead of layoffs, and employees receive a portion of their unemployment benefits while working reduced hours for up to 52 weeks.
The program provides benefits to employees and employers alike. In addition to the security of a paycheck during slow times, Shared Work helps retain employees the company has invested in with time and money.
According to Longfellow, the nature of her business means plenty of work is available in the spring when residents are preparing their yards for summer and fall when they clear the aftermath of the beautiful Missouri foliage. But, it leaves her employees short on hours during the summer and winter months.
“Being a small business, we don’t have the resources to absorb a lot of poorly used labor,” Longfellow said. “We literally have to come up with the hours for all of our employees to work.”
This is especially true of the three hourly employees at Longfellow’s Garden Center, as other employees are salaried, so the cost of their employment is spread out across up times and down times.
These employees and their training and skills, however, are no less important to the garden center and the way it serves its customers.
Longfellow knows that her employees would not be in a secure financial situation that would allow them to ride through the slow seasons if it were not for Shared Work.
“They would have to find another job, and we would have to start new with someone every year,” she said. “The wealth of information they carry with them from year to year is priceless. They know about the business, about techniques we use. They know the customer base.”
With Shared Work in place, those valuable employees feel financially secure through the slow seasons, as Shared Work provides them with up to $64 per 8-hour work day missed.
Learn more about the Shared Work program at sharedwork.mo.gov.