April 13, 2024

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It was previously reported that McKinsey gave 3,000 employees a “concerns” rating for underperformance.
Photo: Benoit Tessier (Reuters)

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. is paying its underperforming staffers to embark on the job hunt.

Instead of taking on new projects, managers at the consultancy’s U.K. offices will receive nine months of pay and continue to have access to its career-coaching services while looking for a new position, London-based newspaper The Times reported over the weekend. There are some strings attached, however: If managers don’t find another job at the end of the nine months, they have to leave the firm.

The opportunity is also on offer at its U.S. offices, sources told the publication, but it’s not known if there are any pay or duration differences between the two programs.

A McKinsey spokesperson told Quartz that McKinsey’s core mission is to help its employees “grow into leaders, whether they stay at McKinsey or continue their careers elsewhere” and that the actions are part of an “ongoing effort to ensure our performance management and development approach is as effective as possible, and to do so in a caring and supportive way.”

This is an apparent expansion of the firm’s “counseled to leave” approach, a practice reserved for underperforming employees wherein the company keeps the staffer off of client projects and recommends they look for a new employer.

In the last several months, the firm gave 3,000 of its consultants a “concerns” rating over unsatisfactory performance, Bloomberg News reported last month. The rating gives staffers roughly three months to improve the performance, placing them on the “counseled to leave” program. If they’re not able to turn their performance around in that time, they are at risk of being put on the chopping block.

McKinsey has grown its staff size to about 45,000 employees — an increase of 60% from 28,000 employees in 2018.

Layoffs at major consulting firms have become almost run-of-the-mill as they try to pare back their bloated headcounts following a pandemic-era hiring craze. In March 2023, McKinsey culled 1,400 jobs in a rare — but sweeping — headcount reduction, Bloomberg reported at the time.

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