10K Layoffs at Sony: 9 To-Do’s for the Internal Relations Team

Sony confirmed in a press statement on April 12 that it plans to lay off 10,000 employees, representing about 6% of its global workforce. The reduction in head count planned for fiscal year 2012 is part of an overall plan to "revitalize and grow the electronics business to generate new value."

Although layoffs have been a common, painful reality in the post-2008 world, Sony's workforce reduction is on such a massive, shocking scale that it reminds us all of just how fragile the "recovery" has been. With that in mind, we turned to the most recent edition of PR News' Employee Communications Guidebook for tips on communicating layoffs internally, courtesy of guidebook contributor Heather-Anne MacLean, owner of Canada-based Taylormade Solutions.

  1. Remember that you have multiple audiences—employees directly affected, surviving employees and the general public. Specifically, remember that there is no such thing as confidential internal employee communication.

  2. Work with HR to develop a letter to affected employees that is complete and respectful.

  3. Have multiple channels for communicating. In some organizations plans must be developed so that messages reach employees who travel, are in the field or in isolated offices.

  4. Remember that choice of language may need to change based on geographic location and/or levels of education.

  5. Understand the culture of your organization. Who are the most trusted communicators? Who do employees want to hear from? If the expectation is the CEO, then have the CEO be the voice. If the expectation is a supervisor, then have the supervisor do it.

  6. Have mechanisms in place to ensure the same messages are being delivered to all employees.

  7. Have mechanisms in place to receive and respond to employee concerns.

  8. Avoid the vacuum effect. The less you communicate, the more speculation and rumors will emerge.

  9. Be prepared to address rumors. Don’t let them fester.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI

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About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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