Top 10 lessons learned from employee layoffs

Learn how Providian Financial communicated its layoff of nearly 10,000 employees to those let go—and those who remained.

When you oversee communication during a layoff of nearly 10,000 employees, you learn a thing or two.

Beth Haiken learned more than she ever wanted to.

Vice president of corporate communications at Providian Financial during its massive reorganization earlier this decade, Haiken says the 18-month shake-up was anything but enjoyable.

“I think anyone who was there would agree that it was not a fun time. It was tough, as it will be for any other company facing this challenge,” she says.

These days, many companies, of course, are facing such a challenge. Haiken, now a senior vice president in the corporate practice at Ogilvy PR Worldwide in San Francisco, says many of the lessons she learned between between late 2001 and early 2003 at Providian can be applied by today’s communicators.

After all, this is not the first recession, nor the first time the financial industry has faced intense scrutiny.

A crisis of cash—and reputation

When Haiken joined Providian, there were two crises brewing: first a reputational crisis, and then a financial crisis.

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