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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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500 KPMG staff informed of redundancy risk – by voicemail


Hundreds of staff at the accountancy arm of management consultancy, KPMG, have been informed that they are at risk of redundancy – by voicemail.

The company has, somewhat ironically, been voted ‘one of the best companies to work for’ by its staff over six consecutive years.
But five hundred employees were reportedly sent a curt email from an HR manager asking them to dial in to hear a pre-recorded message from senior partner, Julian Thomas, who received a £683,000 bonus in January.
The voicemail warned that 30 positions, which included senior managers and directors, would go in KPMG’s corporate division, which works with private sector customers. It added that a review was likewise under way in the company’s marketing and communications division.
The Telegraph also quoted an insider who said that those working with government clients were at risk too.
Thomas’ voicemail said: “This is a message going out to all corporates. The corporate business is facing a challenging market…[we are] 51% down on bottom line profitability compared with this time last year.”
He added:  “Unfortunately, we are now in consultation with certain individuals at director and senior management level across corporates.”
A junior consultant said: “It was like flies to a honeypot. HR emails like that are rare so everyone knew bad news was coming and dialled in.”
But another employee told the Independent: “Last time we were told about mass cuts, they said everyone involved had been informed beforehand, but it wasn’t true. So this time everyone is scared.”
A KPMG spokesman said: “Any individuals are told of job losses personally. It’s important that the business as a whole is aware of what’s going on.”

One Response

  1. Communication is key

    Redundancy is a real taboo word in HR, but sometimes it is a necessary step for businesses to take – particularly in the current economic climate. Obviously it is unfortunate that KPMG have no choice but to go through the redundancy process, but as I mentioned in my recent blog post and a recent webinar, once the decision has been made, communication strategies need to be in place to limit the effects of this unpleasant time for staff.

    People are naturally concerned and apprehensive about the unknown, so clear communications can help to ensure clarity and a thorough understanding of upcoming events.  Ongoing communication and support can help to put people at ease during a redundancy or redeployment process. It is also advisable to provide information to employees on what to expect and what the process will involve. 

    Although in this case those directly affected will be informed personally, the redundancy process affects everyone including those left behind. As such the process of informing mass numbers of this bad news via a voicemail message can in fact affect the motivation and loyalty of those who remain behind.

    Redundancy processes are never easy, but reassuring, clear and consistent communication can really help keep staff motivated and limit the damage to the organisations reputation.

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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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