KPMG defends e-mail redundancy decision

KPMG has hit back at criticism that it acted callously by using e-mail to
inform staff they had been made redundant.

Press reports last week slammed the professional services firm for informing
almost 700 staff via e-mail that they were earmarked for redundancy as a result
of the downturn in the accounting and auditing market.

But Susan Newton, head of HR for tax at KPMG, told Personnel Today that the
company’s redundancy policy was good practice and suggested by staff.

Newton said the organisation met with staff representatives before
announcing the job losses and discussed a number of issues including how to
inform staff.

The company had a number of options, including writing to staff home
addresses, calling staff at work, mass meetings, individual meetings and

The representatives told the company that staff wanted the news via e-mail
at 8am on the next Monday morning.

They explained that this was the popular choice because most staff had
laptops and would be able to find out at home or in the office if their job was
under threat.

"We did what our staff wanted," said Newton. "They did not
want a letter to their home and did not want meetings or a phone call as in an
open plan office it would be obvious to colleagues what was happening."

"I was horrified [about telling staff via e-mail] as I knew it would
make us look callous," she added.

The HR team followed the e-mail announcement with phone calls, at least two
face-to-face meetings and confirmation letters for affected staff.

"The process was clear, transparent, understood and agreed by staff.
People have got hold of wrong end of the stick," said Newton.

By Paul Nelson

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