Comcast’s workforce shrank, Charter’s grew in 2022 – here’s how much

Comcast exited 2022 with several thousand fewer employees than it had the year prior, but cable rival Charter Communications significantly expanded its own workforce over the same period. The changes highlight the different approaches the operators are taking to cut costs and drive efficiency as macro economic challenges mount.

It’s not necessarily a surprise that Comcast’s employee count dropped given the operator confirmed layoffs in its cable field organization and media divisions in recent months. But the scale of those cuts was hitherto unclear.

According to its most recent 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Comcast ended 2022 with 186,000 total employees, including 73,000 in its Cable Communications division. Those figures were down from 189,000 and 79,000 as of the end of 2021. However, its NBCUniversal division gained 3,000 employees, jumping to 77,000 from 74,000 the year prior.

During the operator’s Q4 2022 earnings call, Comcast President Mike Cavanagh noted the operator spent $638 million on severance in the quarter, including $345 million in its cable division. He attributed the charges to a “voluntary retirement” program the operator offered across the company. Such programs, he argued, have the benefit of providing more opportunities for younger talent and providing a tactical way to make certain business units more efficient “heading into uncertain times.” That program has now ended, Cavanagh added.

Charter, meanwhile, apparently took a very different approach in the face of uncertainty. The operator ended 2022 with 101,700 employees, an increase of 8,000 from 93,700 at the end of 2021.

Chris Winfrey, Charter’s new CEO, said during its Q4 call it closed the year with “the lowest attrition rates…that I’ve seen in a very, very long time” across both its service and sales functions. Part of the reason for that, he stated, were targeted wage increases Charter applied to boost return on investment in its employees and increase tenure.

“In the service infrastructure by having a longer tenure, they tend to do a better and faster job in addressing customer issues and avoid repeats, which not only reduces transactions, but reduces customer churn over time,” he explained. And that, of course, helps in an environment where gross additions are down.

Other changes

Elsewhere in the industry, AT&T’s workforce shrank 5.8% year on year in 2022 to 162,920 while Verizon shaved 1% of its staff to end the year with 117,100.

Though Cox Communications confirmed to Fierce last year it made some staff cuts, as a private company it does not filing earnings reports which would provide a year on year comparison.