'It was interesting to read the recent article about how Citigroup is currently the least productive big bank.
But when you talk about employee productivity, there are a few issues - often ignored - that can impact how productive the workforce is.
By the time I departed Citi several years ago, I was often working 60 to 70 hours a week, with frequent expensive car service rides home. Unfortunately is was common that a number of projects were often left to the last minute, and then required very long hours with absolutely no financial control. And badly overworked employees, of course, make lots more mistakes and tend in the long run to be far less productive.
Then there's bad employment practices - imagine that an IT area no longer needs 10 programmers and decides to lay them off. Also imagine that across the hall another IT area needs - hmm - 10 programmers with about the same skills. Citi had a bad habit; it got rid of the first 10, typically providing severance pay, hiring 10 new people who had to be trained and learn their way around the company, and paying large recruitment fees for them to boot. The waste must have been massive.
Now to bad managerial practices. During my time there, Citi was very big on top down management - bosses who had no clue what was really going on gave absurd orders to the people below. Often it was a total waste of time and money.
There was also little cooperation between businesses. In fact, some areas felt they were in competition with other parts of the firm. Often there was so little faith in central support or purchasing areas that business units created their own separate groups to do the same functions - typically without taking advantage of global contracts.
I don't know how much of this is still going on, but my guess probably a lot of it - and it's no doubt the same with many of these big firms which came together from mergers and acquisitions over the years, and where management teams are never there long enough to make their mark on the organisation'.