Sensitive communications are critical during downturn

I read with much dismay the findings of the CBI’s latest report on the service sector (‘Jobs cull in service sector speeds up as profits slide’,, 26 February). The economic situation will make any news, such as redundancies, more emotionally charged, not less.

With so many businesses expecting to make more job cuts over the coming months, it is vital the internal communications to staff are well planned and handled sensitively. Businesses only undertake major restructuring for good, sound business reasons, and the communications around these changes can support or undermine that rationale.

The elements to any sensitive communications are simple: a timetabled process agreed by management should be established up front; backed up with strong visible leadership; and people in all areas of the business should be trained to deliver peer-to-peer briefings on the situation.

But from my experience of handling reputational crises, perhaps the most important, and often forgotten element, is providing forums for staff to feed back. This needs to be active listening, more than a ‘suggestion box’.

It is the venting of these frustrations and identification of gaps in values (between the business as it was and as it will be) that will be invaluable to the company progressing and prospering during and after the recession.

Kate Brader, consultant, Regester Larkin

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