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Lessons from downsizing programs
By Kim Harrison,
Consultant, Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
The findings of a study into organisational downsizing indicate the types of communication that employees prefer during these troubled times. The research was valuable because few studies have investigated the perspective of those affected while they are in the midst of turmoil.
Downsizing is the planned, intended reduction in personnel in an organisation. Retrenchments take place, the organisation shrinks and is restructured. The purpose is to change processes and decrease size to improve efficiency and therefore reduce costs.
The study reported on the reactions of people who had survived retrenchments in a downsizing organisation, in this case a large US multinational employing 50,000 people. The downsizing operation eliminated the jobs of more than 5,000 employees.
Rumors were rife. When employees went on breaks, it was not unusual to find over 30 in the staff area people talking about the downsizing. “We wasted more than 100 years of salary in all the time that was spent talking about what was going to happen. No one could do any work.”
Survivors expressed the need for communication that would help them work through the many ambiguities that suddenly confronted them in doing their work.
Focus groups with a sample of surviving employees indicated that:
These lessons would be helpful to deal with the pressures of the financial crisis confronting many organizations.
About the Author
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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