Blue Bell CEO Explains Layoff Decision

In an emotional message, Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse explains the "agonizing decision" to furlough some employees and lay off others. The company is struggling to regain ground after a recall stopped production. 

So far, the video post on Blue Bell's Facebook page received 1,022 likes. 

In a press release, the company described which and how many employees are affected: 

  • Employees who are essential to ongoing operations and cleaning and repair efforts will continue to work but have their pay reduced. 
  • A second group of employees will be placed on partially paid furlough.  They will be paid a substantial portion of their current pay, with the expectation that they will return to work as production resumes. 
  • Because there is not a clear timeline for when production will resume, and because supply and distribution will be limited when it does, a third group of employees will be laid off. 

In total, "Approximately 1,400 employees will be furloughed, and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees-or 37 percent of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900-will be laid off."

Discussion Starters: 

  • Assess Kruse's video message: which principles of bad-news messages does he follow? How well does he deliver the news? 
  • Next, assess the press release: organization, word choice, tone, and so on. What works well, and what would you suggest the company improve? 
  • If you were an employee affected by this decision, how do you think you might react?