Public sector cuts will mean staff comms challenges, say PR experts

Communications experts have said that proposed cuts to the public sector present the Government with its biggest internal comms challenge for years.

Public sector cuts: Trafalgar Square demonstration
Public sector cuts: Trafalgar Square demonstration

The comments came after thousands of public sector workers held a demonstration in London last weekend.

The main political parties have all conceded that job losses will result from cuts in public sector budgets, while Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said ordinary people were ‘paying the price' for the failure of bankers.

One senior local government communicator, who asked not to be named, said that the
biggest internal comms issue would be getting people to work harder and more efficiently.

In particular, he said, public sector bodies would have to work hard to introduce performance management programmes that have, so far, been ‘alien' to much of the sector.

Weber Shandwick head of public sector Rakhee Vithlani said the key was for ‘practical, honest, informative and where possible, reassuring facts' to be conveyed: ‘Equally, it's important for employees to be heard and for decision-makers to address specific concerns, even if that is through one-on-one discussions.'

Fishburn Hedges director Paul Sweetman, who works in the employee engagement team, added: ‘You need to unlock employees' creativity and their ideas - what ideas do they have to change the
way we should develop public services?'

Oxfordshire County Council head of comms James Clark agreed: ‘We're getting them [employees] to help identify areas where we could do things better, as well as with less, and combining this with organisational and culture change to get the best bang for our bucks.'

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