Citigroup job cull creates comms dilemma

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CitigroupAs Citigroup unveiled headline grabbing plans today for 52,000 new job cuts, on top of 23,000 already made this year, the argument for having a strong media relations team was ringing loud and clear.


Admittedly, there’s not a hope in hell of making a drastic job cull look in the slightest bit positive – not even a master of spin could dress this one up in flashing fairy lights. But, redundancies of this magnitude do require carefully crafted communication, both internal and external.


On the surface, the company has been keen to stress that ‘underlying business remains strong and revenues have been stable’. A sensible, if rather predictable response, but a classic example of steering attention away from the big numbers and wrapping it all up in a bright big bow! Consumers won’t be fooled [Citigroup has lost more than $20bn (£13.6bn) in the past year because of the global financial crisis], but the importance of communicating even negative news to the general public, shareholders and employees, is absolutely critical.


Transparency (or a degree of openness) is just one part of an effective communications strategy during times of significant uncertainty. Internal comms is also essential, particularly when you still have 300,000 worried employees. Pictures of jaded staff walking out, cardboard box under arm, (AKA Lehman Brothers) are yet to be seen. But, the need for wide open communications channels between senior execs and every single member of staff of any business is a must, even when job cuts are not yet on the table.


With unemployment at an 11 year high, jumping by 140,000 to 1.82 million, Citigroup is not alone in having to explain to its staff and the world at large, why it’s cutting so many jobs. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the reasons why, but there are ways of communicating in an attempt to ease the pain.