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汇丰3万大裁员,稳定军心是挑战

Shelley DuBois 2011年08月05日

未来的十年内,欧洲最大的银行汇丰银行将裁员10%。此举无疑能削减开支,但是如何保证在职员工的工作效率却是个问题。

    汇丰银行(HSBC)的股东们眼下可能正偷着乐呢!2011年上半年,汇丰银行的税前利润达115亿美元,同比增长4亿美元。这是几个收益期以来,汇丰银行的表现首次超出预期。同时,银行CEO斯图亚特•格利佛眼下似乎正在按部就班地执行今年五月宣布的削减成本和关注增长市场的计划。

    但是汇丰银行的约30万员工无论如何也高兴不起来。汇丰银行将主要通过精简员工来削减成本:计划在2013年之前共裁员3万人(在过去的半年中,已经有5,000名员工被裁),这还不包括因出售或处置公司的部分资产而导致的减员。

    汇丰的瘦身大计也许已经走上正轨,但是由于大量员工面临着下岗的压力,如何稳定军心就成为它必须处理的一个棘手问题。市场似乎很乐意看到大型银行“瘦身”,最近几家银行在这方面也确实有所行动。周二,巴克莱银行(Barclay)宣布,计划今年裁员3,000人,而且,公司的税前利润同比下降约33%。此外,汇丰银行昨天在宣布裁员计划的同时,宣布了利润增长的利好消息。受此影响,汇丰银行的股价上涨了5%。

    证券分析机构Canaccord Genuity的分析师科马克•利奇表示,裁员在预料之中。这与汇丰银行CEO格利佛在昨天上午的季报电话会议上的观点不谋而合。他说:“如果我们要想削减10%的成本,我们就需要精简10%的员工,这一点不足为奇。”

    利奇称,因为裁员代表着具体的行动,而且是比汇丰银行的竞争对手更有效的行动,因此有希望取悦股东。他说:“每个银行——我觉得特别是巴克莱银行和劳埃德银行(Lloyd’s)——已经制定了雄心勃勃的战略目标,而且,他们正为实现目标而努力。”

    但是,在股东欢呼裁员是一个不错的商业战略时,员工却面临着可能会被裁掉的担忧,这无疑就制造了紧张气氛。成本削减从数据上来看是有利的,但是裁员也会严重挫伤员工的士气并影响生产效率。

    美国职业生涯管理服务机构Right Management的高级副总裁莫妮卡•莫罗表示,很显然,担心被裁的员工工作效率会降低。

    她说,公司处于这种重大变动时必须谨慎应对,同时加强与员工的沟通。她建议,计划进行大规模裁员的公司应该在实际开始裁员之前,与可能被裁掉的员工讨论安置计划,并向他们明确被辞退之后仍然能享受到的福利计划。

    “通常情况下,员工希望知道被裁的原因,这正是沟通策略的第一部分:讨论可能发生的事情、可能的程序以及裁员消息将由谁发布等。在这种时期,无论怎么沟通都不为过。”

    这一方法适用于离开的员工,同样也适用于留下来的员工,学术界通常把他们称为“幸存者”。

    宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)沃顿商学院(Wharton School)管理学教授彼得•卡佩里说:“我们知道,自从裁员开始,幸存者通常无法好好工作。公司发生的一切让他们心生恐惧。”

    他说,如果幸存者对自己得以幸免的原因不够了解,他们就会对未来焦虑不安。

    卡佩里说:“他们开始胡思乱想,认为裁员是随机的,想象出最糟糕的情形。”

    康奈尔大学(Cornell)工业暨劳工关系学院(School of Industrial and Labor Relations)薪酬研究院(Institute for Compensation Studies)的院长凯文•哈洛克称,为了避免恐慌,这些公司需要向幸存者解释公司留下他们的原因,他们在公司全新愿景中的位置所在。这样,可以帮助缓解在裁员后产生的“幸存者负罪感”的心理。

    哈洛克表示,这是人性的自然反应。员工会怀念被辞退的同事。如果他们不明白为什么自己的朋友被辞退,自己却安然无恙,工作氛围就会趋于紧张,特别是裁员往往还伴随着工作负荷加重。

    莫罗说:“任何处于过渡阶段的人都强烈希望所有程序能够照顾到人的尊严。”如果被辞退的同事能够得到尊重,留下来的员工工作表现也会改善。

    裁员的负面效应使汇丰银行面临的挑战更加严峻。同时,汇丰银行股价上涨对CEO斯图亚特•格利佛的影响也比表象更深远。

    哈洛克对《财富》500强(Fortune 500)上榜公司历年数据的分析显示,“如果裁员带来的市场反应良好,CEO一般会继续留任。如果市场出现负面反应,CEO的位置在接下来的几年可能就会易主。这一规律并非铁律,但是通常情况下,事实就是如此。”

    如果这一规律再次奏效,至少现任CEO斯图亚特•格利佛能保住饭碗。

    (翻译 乔树静)

    If you're one of HSBC's shareholders, you're probably stoked. For the first time in a couple of earnings periods, the bank exceeded expectations, netting a $11.5 billion pretax profit for the first half of 2011, up from $11.1 billion a year ago. CEO Stuart Gulliver also looks like he's making good on his plan to cut costs and focus on growth markets, announced this past May.

    But if you're one of HSBC's approximately 300,000 employees, it might be hard to join the celebration. Much of the cost savings in the company's strategy will come from shedding a total of 30,000 jobs before 2013 (HSBC has laid off 5,000 employees over the past six months), not counting jobs lost from selling or disposing of portions of the company.

    While HSBC may be on track to slim down, it now has to handle the tricky situation of maintaining a productive workforce when plenty of its people are facing the chopping block. The market seems to like it when big banks slim down these days, and several are doing just that. Today, Barclays (BCS) announced that it plans to cut 3,000 jobs this year, and that the company's pretax profit dropped about 33% from the previous year.HSBC, on the other hand, announced its job slashing plans along with an increase in profits. Its share price rose 5% after yesterday's announcement.

    The job loss was expected, says Canaccord Genuity analyst Cormac Leech, a sentiment that HSBC CEO Gulliver echoed during an earnings conference call yesterday morning. "If we're looking to take 10% out of the cost-base of the firm, it's not altogether surprising that's about 10% of the headcount of the firm."

    The layoffs may please shareholders because they reflect action, any action, which is better than what can be said of some of HSBC's competitors, says Leech. "Every bank -- and I'm thinking particularly Barclays and Lloyd's -- has provided ambitious strategic targets, and they've been struggling to hit them."

    But HSBC's situation creates tension between shareholders cheering the job cuts on as good business strategy and employees who may be afraid of losing their jobs. Cost cutting looks great on a spreadsheet, but layoffs come at a significant cost to morale and productivity.

    Understandably, employees afraid of losing their jobs can be less efficient, says Monika Morrow, senior vice president of career management services in America for Right Management.

    Companies experiencing a major transition such as this one must handle it carefully, she says, and communicate more than normal. She suggests that organizations planning major layoffs should even discuss plans with employees at risk well before cuts take place, and inform them of the benefits they can still access even as they're preparing to be let go.

    "People always want to know why, and that's really the first part of that communication strategy: being able to talk about what is going to happen, how's it going to happen and who are you going to hear from," Morrow says. "You can't over-communicate during this period of time."

    That goes for employees who leave but also the ones who stay behind, often referred to as "survivors" in the academic world.

    "We know from the downsizing wave, the survivors often don't perform well. They're often petrified about what has happened," says Peter Capelli a professor of management at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school.

    Capelli says that survivors often don't know why they made the cut, causing anxiety and uncertainty about their future.

    "They start thinking it's random and they make up the worst story they can imagine," Capelli says.

    To avoid panic, companies need to tell remaining employees why they've been spared and how they fit within the company's refreshed vision. This can help alleviate any "survivor's guilt" they may feel following layoffs, says Kevin Hallock, director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

    It's an all-too human response, Hallock says. People miss their coworkers, and it can strain the work environment if they don't understand why their friend was fired instead of them, especially when that sentiment is coupled with a heavier workload.

    "Anybody who's transitioning really needs to experience what I would call a dignified process," Morrow says. Employees who stay will work better if they see their fired friends treated with respect.

    These negative side effects only add more weight to HSBC's challenges. But, in the meantime, the bank's stock jump could carry more long-term meaning for CEO Stuart Gulliver than it may seem.

    According to Hallock's analysis of years of data from Fortune 500 companies, "If you see a layoff and the market loved it, the CEO tends to stick around. If there's a negative reaction, the CEOs tend to turn over in the subsequent years. It's not a law of gravity, but on average, that tends to be true."

    If the trend holds, at least one HSBC employee will be sure to dodge the pink slip this time around.

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