By Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter
FORTUNE -- 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." More
Whether you're on the delivering or receiving end, layoffs and firings are a messy office enterprise. Here are four readers' stories from the front lines.
The following four readers' tales of firing and being fired -- the first round of the You Can't Fire Everyone series -- speak to the dread, anger, and, yes, humor enmeshed in this most unnerving office ritual.
Weigh in with your own firing experiences. Leave MOREFortune Editors - Mar 17, 2011 10:59 AM ET
It seems that when it comes to jobs, 2009 is going to be a lot like 2008, only worse, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her Jan. 7 Ask Annie column. Feeling stressed out now is totally normal. The trouble is that letting an out-of-control environment get under your skin will eventually make you less great at your job, hence more likely to lose it.
Are you stressed by the economic MOREGabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Jan 6, 2009 5:14 PM ET
Tough economic times may bring out the sharp elbows in co-workers, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her November 13 Ask Annie column. Have office politics gotten nastier at your company lately? What type of behavior bothers you the most or seems to cause the most trouble? Any tips for handling office politics?Gabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Nov 12, 2008 6:03 PM ET
Now that Goldman Sachs says it will lay off 10% of its employees, there will be 3,260 more bankers pounding the pavement, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her Oct. 23 Ask Annie column. Have you been laid off from a Wall Street job? Any advice for laid-off bankers?Gabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Oct 23, 2008 4:14 PM ET
Once a company has announced plans to cut its headcount, employees face a tricky choice, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her Sept. 30 Ask Annie column. What should employees facing a layoff threat do and what should they avoid at all costs? Have you ever jumped ship in advance of a layoff - or stayed on board too long?Gabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Sep 29, 2008 11:21 AM ET
Announcing lousy results is never a day at the beach, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her Sept. 26 Ask Annie column. Ever had to deliver bad news to a stressed-out audience? Or have you been on the receiving end? Got any suggestions for how to do it (or how not to)?Gabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Sep 25, 2008 4:30 PM ET
"In recessionary times, companies are willing to take extra steps to protect their business," Michael Greco, a partner in labor law firm Fisher & Phillips, told Fortune's Anne Fisher in her June 20 Ask Annie column. Is it fair to take clients with you when you change jobs? Is it fair for employers to ask you not to? Have you ever been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, or any MOREGabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Jun 19, 2008 1:23 PM ET
Called in to help companies lay people off, and to offer career guidance aimed at easing the newly unemployed into their next jobs elsewhere, outplacement firms are pretty busy these days, especially in the financial services industry, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her April 4 Ask Annie column.
Have you been offered professional job-hunting help as part of a layoff? Just severance? Nothing at all? Does having a job coach help? MOREGabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Apr 3, 2008 5:50 PM ET
It's every professional's nightmare: You're working in a great job for a well-regarded employer, then the company -- seemingly overnight -- suffers a crisis and is bought out or goes belly-up. That's the unpleasant situation facing many Bear Stearns employees, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her March 25 Ask Annie column. How safe is your job? Are you worried your company could suffer a Bear Stearns-like implosion, and if so, MOREGabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Mar 25, 2008 11:49 AM ET
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