TIME TO GO?: Time Inc. staffers are bracing for layoffs, which could come as early as next week, WWD has learned.

Word of the job cuts came last month, when Time Inc. chief executive officer Joe Ripp told employees during a quarterly corporate meeting that the company would have to reduce costs before it spins off from parent company Time Warner in the second half of 2014. With the holidays now past, rumors are rampant within the publisher’s hallways, with several sources confirming that job cuts are expected to take place by the end of next week at the latest.

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We’re very lean and mean here anyway. It’s concerning,” one employee said, adding the job reductions are expected by the middle or end of next week.

It could not be learned where the majority of the cuts will take place, or how many jobs will be cut, but a source said the corporate side would undoubtedly be hit. The source noted that the company’s acquisition of American Express Publishing in the fall created many “redundancies” that could be eliminated.

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Another source, who heard that layoffs could take place as early as Friday, said one reason why employees are currently buzzing with anxiety has to do with a memo Ripp sent out Monday regarding the company’s updated compensation strategy. In the memo, which was obtained by WWD, Ripp wrote: “As we develop our compensation programs in preparation for operating as an independent public company, it is important for our success that we align our compensation strategy more closely with our business and talent strategies.”

The ceo laid out changes to Time Inc.’s annual incentive plan for 2014, which include strengthening “accountability for the 30 percent strategic portion” of the plan by “requiring measurable individual goals and aligning them closely to the company’s overall strategy.” Ripp pinpointed five areas: driving business transformation; growing digital scale and revenue; generating new revenue streams; enhancing its core business, and attracting, retaining and developing talent. He ended the memo with an assurance that the company was “finalizing” details of the financial portion of the incentive plan, as well as its compensation strategy, and that it would be “discussing” those details with employees “soon.”

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Prior to the letter, staffers were evaluated based on their publication’s performance, said an insider, who characterized the memo as “very strange corporate babble.”

“This comes ahead of the layoffs,” the source noted with certainty.

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