As I flipped through the papers today, it’s almost always guaranteed to have layoff news on it. It’s never easy to communicate something like this, especially in such terrible times.(The company will always be the bad guy!) However, it’s interesting to note how companies are going about announcing the lay-offs. (This is purely from an external perspective and I have no idea how the internal comms are handled)
Let’s start with DBS. I did a post on them a few weeks back and the people’s bank really went through a terrible time with the High notes issue being linked with Lehman brothers. To compound their problems even further, DBS was going though layoffs for some of it’s senior staff. How did they go about handling 2 problems? Focus on the layoffs to appease the shareholders that costs are being cut and use lousy customer service to answer the investors who invested in the high notes.
Then there’s Yahoo! who had the recent layoffs of 1500 staff. Every knows Yahoo! has been going through a horrible time because of declining profits and the whole Yahoo-Microsoft saga. I interned at Yahoo! and i know they’ve got excellent internal communications. I’m sure those that were being laid-off would have known well before hand and would have been properly compensated. It doesn’t help that with Yahoo!’s current situation that the economic crisis had to occur leading to cost cutting via layoffs. The communications to the media and online blogosphere was open and honest.
As i read about the lay-offs, i was wondering why the comms folks in Sunnyvale didn’t try to steer the media towards their new product launches. I mean you have an article from Mashable that says Yahoo! might be the next great app platform and an article from ReadWriteWeb which says Gmail struggling with Email wants to be your task manager too. Both articles came out on the same day. So why focus so much on the layoff news when it might be possible to push out other news which can enhance your reputation at a time like this? In fact, why not keep quiet about it?
I point the finger to social media but more importantly micro-blogging and citizen journalism. This article from MarketingVox, Yahoo layoffs draw more blog coverage than ad campaigns, nicely sums up why today’s companies should be tackling layoffs more seriously. However, it was also nice to know that showing your pink slip online allows others to know that you’re ready for your next job! Tokbox showed how it was able to leverage from Yahoo!’s layoffs.
So it’s inevitable to make a layoff private. It’s also not very smart to focus on something other than your layoff. It should be a top priority because you’re now the Lich King. (WOW analogy for being a bad guy). You can check out this post here, You’re Fired: 7 Public Relations Tips for HR managers in an age of layoffs. on how to communicate a layoff