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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Alcatel Lucent Allegedly Lays Off Employees via Email

When you fire employees via email it is information that will spread quickly. Unfortunately, I learned that Alcatel Lucent allegedly laid off some of its employees via an email. I actually met someone who was one of four Alcatel Lucent employees in New Jersey allegedly emailed that they were being let go on January 25. It was simple, they arrived at work, logged into their computer, checked their email and learned their fate.

Obviously, this is not the way to handle a lay off. Perhaps it is a cultural difference in the french company Alcatel and the american employees of Alcatel Lucent in New Jersey. Maybe it is standard to inform employees in France that they will be unemployed via email, but that is not the case in the United States.

I heard that all of the employees retained a copy of the alleged ill-fated email which is why this is a bad idea. Anything electronic can go mobile quickly. The employees receiving the bad emailed news can hit forward and send it to everyone in their department or the company. The worse case scenario is that the disgruntled former employees start forwarding the note outside the company. That is when the company at fault loses control of the situation causing a public relations fiasco.

A business should never provide negative news via electronic communications. In certain circumstances an email might be a solution to get important news out quickly. But there are few circumstance that should cause individuals to find out they are losing their jobs via an emotionless, remorseless email.

Emailing company news is only appropriate when it is not unique to an individual. Sometimes company news about merger and acquisitions can come via an email or letter and then later followed by a company-wide live meeting. Most large and small organizations handle individual employee news with care. It is unfortunate to hear that such a useful and effective tool such as email is being used to handle sensitive company business. Do yourself and your company a favor, dissemminate company and employee news with care.

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