“Good” news: you’re all fired

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When the CEO of a US media company emailed his employees announcing his resignation last Friday, with promises that good news would follow, no one expected that news to be mass layoffs.

Employees at the Daily Voice, a US network of local news sites, were sent emails Friday afternoon from CEO Zohar Yardeni, announcing his resignation, according to Gawker. The announcement was closely followed by an email from company Chairman Carll Tucker.

“Monday morning we will share with you the news about where we're going and how we're going to get there. The news is good, but you'll need to sit tight while we finalize our plans,” Tucker wrote. “. Check your email about our company-wide phone conference early Monday morning. I am pumped about the prospect of working with you to build a great company.”

On Monday the company announced it was closing all 11 of its Massachusetts sites, as well as laying off staff in Connecticut and New York.

Former reporter Steve Balestrieri, of the Millbury branch, tweeted the news on Monday: “All 12 town reporters, editors, office staff laid off today. Boom. Bum status”

"Just about every experienced and/or older person on the editorial staff was let go," a source told Gawker. "Now it's going to be nothing but 23-year-olds doing twice as much work for the same 25K base salary they were making before."

Dr Nita Chhinzer from the University of Guelph warns employers that layoffs are rarely as successful as they’re expected to be, especially when those left behind feel betrayed by their bosses.

“The people who stay often have a massive volume of work to do, they are feeling guilty about friends who have left and they’re unsure about their own jobs,” Chhinzer said. “That leads to management mistrust and a drop in productivity which impacts the financials post down-sizing.”

So what should The Daily Voice have done instead?

Fairness and transparency are key for employees, both those leaving and those who keep their jobs, to help build a feeling of understanding and acceptance. Help employees understand why this is happening, and what process the company is going through.

“Rather than leaving it up to people to deduce the reason, it’s good practice to be clear,” Chiinzer said. If you’re outsourcing, changing focus or trying to cut costs, let employees know. They’re also more likely to be committed to help turn around the company if they understand the reasons – and if you take the power out of the rumour mill.

By first misleading employees, then giving them no warning and, apparently, little explanation, The Daily Voice could find itself with employees who resent their managers and feel guilty about their former colleagues position.

Watch: Best Practice: managing large-scale terminations

Read: Layoffs: managing those left behind


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