Where Layoffs Are the Last Option

In Columbus Georgia, the Burns family faced a familiar recession drama. Dolanda Burns had a choice. Move to Texas, or lose her job with a downsizing mortgage company. Alonzo Burns worked for Aflac, the insurance giant, which has no offices in Texas.

Aflac has 4,700 employees and a reputation of doing whatever it takes to keep all of them, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

"We have never had layoffs in Aflac's history," said Dan Amos, the CEO of Afflac. "We will let an unproductive worker go in a minute. But, if you are a great employee, we will do everything in our power to keep you."

Employees like Alonzo Burns. Aflac retrained him - so he could telecommute from the family's new home in Dallas.

"It meant the world to the whole family," Dolanda said.

More than 5 million Americans have lost jobs in this recession.

But some companies have never laid off anyone: Nugget Grocery Store, Devon Energy, QuikTrip, NuStar Energy,Stew Leonards Grocery, Scottrade, and Publix Super Markets. Also on the list is the Container Store.

In Dallas, Container Store CEO Kip Tindell has cut costs everywhere, but his payroll.

"I do worry that sometimes some people just sort of knee-jerk layoffs as the first option," Tindell said. "It should certainly be the last option."

Dan Amos, Aflac's CEO, even gave up his bonus and golden parachute, worth about $16 million and helped save 500 jobs.

"I think it did send a message to employees because the employees know that I care," Amos said.

If business gets significantly worse, both CEOs say layoffs could still happen. Still, Susan Ough won't brood about it.

"If that were to happen, everything possible would have been done to avoid that," said Ough, a Container Store Employee.

With so much job insecurity out there, some workers actually trust the paychecks will keep coming.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.