Magazine article Workforce Management

Insult to Injury

Magazine article Workforce Management

Insult to Injury

Article excerpt

"[Layoffs are] nothing so embarrassing that a company should feel the need to Me to its clients and make employees who already feel bad look bad too."

FEEDBACK | from our readers

REGARDING YOUR online story on Carat, a media agency whose HR chief inadvertently sent the company layoff plan to the whole staff ("E-mail Blunder Alerts Ad Firm Staff to Major Restructuring," available at workforce.com/blunder): The worst part about this situation is not the accidental misdirect of the layoff e-mail. It's what that e-mail revealed.

I think it's shameful and totally deceitful that Carat is placing blame on its workers for the reassignment of accounts: "Mary Smith will be moving off your business. Now that we understand your business better, we are replacing her with someone whom we feel will be a better partner for you." Or, "Mary Smith will not (sic) longer be working on your business. In order to serve you better and provide greater innovation we have made a staffing change to your business."

Why should "Mary" take the fall for the company's failure to perform? It seems quite slanderous to me.

Then again, this statement makes Carat seem just as incapable as poor Mary: "Now that we understand your business better" looks like someone didn't do their homework or due diligence.

How will the client look back on the agency's service and competence in light of this "revelation"? Not favorably. I'd ask for a refund and find a new agency. If I were Mary, I'd seek legal action.

This is a crisis-communications train wreck on several levels, committed by a company that supposedly communicates for a living. Is it any wonder that agencies, especially PR firms, get such a bad rap for spin-doctoring everything?

Just tell the story straight. Your clients, employees and the media will have infinitely greater respect for you. And they're all smart enough to figure out the truth anyway.

Layoffs are an unfortunate fact of the current economy-any economy, really. Even the most successful companies have had to face them in record numbers.

It's nothing so embarrassing that a company should feel the need to lie to its clients and make employees who already feel bad look bad too. The HR person who pressed "send" should not be fired. …

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