Read the case study below:
Bad News Memo or email: Reassuring Staff After Layoffs (From Dr. Guffy’s case studies)
On the TV show “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump seemed to relish announcing “You’re fired” to losing contestants. But most employers recoil from having to tell employees that they will be “downsized.” To make a difficult job easier, managers sometimes use plain language, euphemisms, and jargon to avoid bluntly announcing that someone has been fired or laid off. In fact, cutbacks have generated new words like “rightsizing” and “re-engineering.”
Regardless of the language, today’s economic tailspin forces organizations to tell employees that they will be losing their jobs by emphasizing what is best for the company. At e-Bay, 1,500 employees lost their jobs in a program of “employee simplification.” At Yahoo the CEO explained layoffs as a way for the company to “become more fit.”
No matter how you look at it, people are worried about losing their jobs, and those who remain are worried about whether the company will stay in business.
Experts differ on how to reveal possible workforce reductions. Should managers disclose the news indirectly and quietly? Or should they use the direct approach and announce loudly that they are taking forceful action to strengthen the organization in a dour economy? Some say that executives should use bland language to minimize the public relations fallout from mass firings. Vague explanations and even corporate jargon may be appropriate to reduce the negative effect on remaining employees and on recruiting new employees when the economy rebounds. Opaque language and euphemisms may lessen the impact of layoffs.
Assume you work in the human resource department of BrightWave Technology, a high-tech firm that has decided to lay off 10 percent of its workforce to maintain profitability. Although every department has participated in cost-cutting measures, expenses continue to mount, and sales are not where they should be.
Your boss, Shirley Schmidt, has asked you to draft an email that goes to the staff whose jobs are untouched by the layoffs. The goal is to assure key employees that management is in control of the situation. You need to emphasize that BrightWave maintains a strong strategic vision, and that management is convinced of the firm’s rosy future in the tech industry. Still, layoffs are necessary to make the company more financially stable. Ever mindful of its people, BrightWave is taking all possible measures to assist those who have lost their jobs. These reductions will help make the firm stronger, says Schmidt.
Draft an email from Shirley Schmidt, director, Employee Relations, BrightWave Technology. In addressing remaining employees, your message should explain the bad news and strive to preserve employee morale. Decide whether to use the direct or indirect approach. Apply as many concepts as possible from the readings. After you’ve written the letter, write an essay describing how you used the ideas from the readings.
Submit your assignments by the module’s due date.
Write a draft email for the director, Shirley Schmidt (remember that you are drafting the message for Shirley Schmidt to sign).
Write an essay for Shirley Schmidt, explaining the principles you used when writing the email. Your explanation should make use of the Background Info, properly cited and referenced.
Apply as many concepts as possible from the readings.
After you’ve written the letter, write a summary describing how you used the ideas from the readings. Make sure to include proper referencing in your summary.