An article in yesterday’s Evening Standard revealed that KPMG (the very same Big Four firm that claims that ‘People are our greatest asset and most important differentiator’) had used a voicemail message to warn employees in its consulting practice of imminent job cuts. Now, we all know that consultants tend to be scattered far and wide, and it’s not as simple as rounding them up in a staff room and breaking the bad news over a cup of milky tea and biscuits, but surely they could have tried a bit harder than this? Could the firm not, at least, have called a meeting at its glitzy Canary Wharf headquarters for those consultants who could make it, dispensed a few well-chosen words of sympathy and encouraged everyone present to partake in a rousing group hug? Could it not have set up a group conference call on Skype? Accountancy firms, sadly, have a tradition of turning to voicemail to impart bad news. The folks at Andersen heard their firm implode on voicemail. Administrators at PwC used voicemail to tell some workers at a failed Manchester personal claims company that they had lost their jobs. I used to work at Accenture so I know how wedded professional services firms are to their voicemail. I was never convinced about it as a way to communicate messages then and I’m even less convinced about it now. Surely a profession that views its people as its greatest asset should know better than to hide behind increasingly old-fashioned technology?
On a separate note, the 30 redundancies in KPMG’s consultancy practice seem a bit worrying given that only last year the Big Four were all touting consultancy as the next big growth area. I guess they were a little too over-optimistic about market conditions in 2012. Let’s hope things pick up in the second half of the year and we get an Olympic boost.