Monday, August 22, 2016

Cisco Firing Thousands

Cisco firing thousands 
For tech giant Cisco, the hurting continues. Media outlets without sources inside the company recently released Cisco’s plans to lay off about 14,000 employees, about 1 in 5 employees worldwide.

While the company is not expected to announce the layoffs until later in the year, now Cisco’s PR team is scrambling to put the right narrative face on this breaking news. It’s likely most employees had no idea their time might be up, and wouldn’t have known for several weeks. But now they do, and Cisco is forced into the position of reacting or responding, rather than driving the narrative.

At this point, the company has neither confirmed nor denied the report, leaving tech news outlets – and employees – to speculate as to the veracity. But that sort of wondering rarely gets too far before it drifts into the Worst Case Scenario.

If Cisco doesn’t get a handle on the narrative soon, morale will suffer companywide, leading to worse quarterly numbers than they have right now and potentially more layoffs. It’s a difficult self-defeating situation that doesn’t need to come to pass.

After all, Cisco is already well into a transition phase, and that could be very good news and a powerful narrative to hold on to as the company traverses this rough patch. For example, while the company is suffering with its bread and butter products, it is already pivoting to focus more on wireless security and data center business, two markets set to boom in the modern tech economy.

Yes, the company should move out of the hardware game a bit more, and, yes, that will mean cuts, but it could also mean opportunity for those still at Cisco when the dust settles. It might even mean a new gig for someone savvy enough to get the necessary skills instead of waiting for the pink slip to come.

That’s not to say any of this came as a complete surprise to some employees. Many of the company’s 70,000 employees were offered buyout or early retirement options earlier this year. For those who stay there is a silver lining.

For an industry being completely turned inside out by data engines and mobile tech, Cisco stock is down less than two percent and seems to be holding steady around $30 per share. It maintains a “buy” rating. So, good news for traders and potential hope for those wishing to be employed for Christmas.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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