Paired together, “tornado” and “Best Buy” are usually in reference to the retailer’s legendary turnaround when it held a tent sale at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul after a tornado destroyed the flagship store in Roseville in 1982.
Today, the words carry a different meaning for corporate employees at Best Buy’s headquarters in Richfield.
Over the past several months, Best Buy has been laying off groups of employees on Tuesdays, a tactic that has prompted the rank and file to nickname the second day of the work week as “Tornado Tuesdays” or “Termination Tuesdays.”
Multiple sources say the layoffs vary wildly across all departments, ranging anywhere from a handful of workers to as high as 25.
It’s no secret that Best Buy needs to trim its corporate headcount. Under Best Buy’s Renew Blue strategy, the company has been working to shave $700 million of the company’s balance sheet over the next few years.
Since CEO Hubert Joly has ruled out cutting stores, Best Buy’s corporate employees will bear the brunt of any cuts focused on its work force.
“When we committed to reducing costs as part of our Renew Blue transformation efforts, we said our first priority was to identify savings in non-salary expenses,” spokeswoman Amy von Walter said Monday. “But we have also had to make some difficult decisions involving headcount which ultimately allow us to accelerate our work to transform our business.
In February, Best Buy laid off about 400 employees, stage one of its cost cutting effort. So far, the company has shaved about $295 million in costs, though not all of that has come from job cuts.
Since then, there has been a steady drip of layoffs week to week. Employees say such a piecemeal approach has damaged morale. Large corporations tend to announce in one larger move so to minimize distractions over time.
But stretching small numbers of layoffs over several months means employees who survive one week still must worry whether they will make it through the next.
Employees say it makes coming to work on Tuesdays especially difficult.
“Whenever someone leaves their desk, we think that person just got laid off even he or she might just be going to the bathroom,” said one employee who requested anonymity because the worker was not authorized to speak to the news media.
Some employees suspect that Best Buy prefers this approach because they don’t want to report larger layoffs as required by the federal WARN act. But the law requires a company to report cumulative layoffs under certain situations over a 90-day period.