Retrenchment is something akin to downsizing. When a company or government goes through retrenchment, it reduces outgoing money or expenditures or redirects focus in an attempt to become more financially solvent. Many companies that are being pressured by stockholders or have had flagging profit reports may resort to retrenchment to shore up their operations and make them more profitable. Although retrenchment is most often used in countries throughout the world to refer to layoffs, it can also label the more general tactic of cutting back and downsizing.
Companies can employ this tactic in two different ways. One way is to slash expenditures by laying off employees, closing superfluous offices or branches, reducing benefits such as medical coverage or retirement plans, freezing hiring or salaries, or even cutting salaries. There are numerous other ways in which a company can employ retrenchment. These can be non-employee related, such as reducing the quality of the materials used in a product, streamlining the process in which a product is manufactured or produced, or moving headquarters to a location where operating costs are lower.
The second way in which a company may practice retrenchment is to downsize in one market that is proving unprofitable and build up the company in a more profitable market. If one market has become obsolete due to modernization or technology, then a company may decide to change with the times to remain profitable.
States or governments may also use retrenchment as a means to become more financially stable. In capitalist nations, retrenchment is effected by lowering taxes in the hopes of pumping more money into the economy. This tactic is always healthily debated throughout all levels of government. When applied to governments, retrenchment may also refer to a state cutting costs by making jobs obsolete, closing governmental offices, and cutting government programs and services. However, this is not a classic example of retrenchment, because when expenses are cut in one area, politicians tend to re-direct them to other areas.
Employees are often the casualty of retrenchment, as the tactic does not take their interests into account. They are often considered simply as commodities that are either profiting or costing the company, and are therefore either a necessary expense or a financial liability.