It’s Monday, 6th of November 2017 and I can’t find a better example of a typical late autumn evening in Denmark, and that’s because I don’t remember anything particular about it.
Until THAT THING, that is.
Most probably it was dark (it’s Denmark), rainy (it’s Denmark) and windy (it’s Denmark).
Most probably I was cooking dinner and talking with my daughter about her day at school or the upcoming album of Taylor Swift that she was excited about.
Most probably we ate; I’ve cleaned the dishes, went for a cigarette and took my mobile with me to check News Feed on Facebook, looking for some updates from my friends.
I’m pretty sure that this is how the entire plot was unfolding until THAT THING, that quite dreading moment when I’ve randomly found an article that one of my colleagues from work has shared on Facebook.
Apparently, my company is firing 6000 people.
And this is how a typical Danish autumn evening became a historic moment. Not only because in that very moment something in me broke, but also because it will always be remembered as:
“That day when I’ve found out about the biggest layoffs in the history of the company. From Facebook.”
First, I panicked. I guess it’s a natural reaction of a human brain that is faced with a prospect of a sudden change. A million thoughts galloped through my head, but one of them materialized in its full vividness:
WILL THEY FIRE ME?
And what do I do next if they will?
See, I’m a single mom and the household’s sole provider. I’m living in Denmark for some years now but I never really learned the language (neither my studies nor professional career required that), so finding alternative employment options comes with some heavy constraints. Plus, I don’t have any savings (yeap, I see that was a mistake… now)
What I do have is:
- an apartment with high rent,
- a daughter in a private school
- and a cat.
And I need my salary to keep those things going.
So I guess you could understand that the pure panic was the very first feeling I have felt. But then I quickly recalled that I didn’t want to work there for months already, so maybe the destiny is pushing me towards my “Grande Exit.”
And this is how the feeling of panic was immediately replaced.
With a wave of anger.
All of a sudden, I got really upset that information of such importance was delivered to me via Facebook feed.
How is that even possible? Can my formerly beloved company be so inconsiderate and allow such a crucial decision – which will affect 6000 employees and their families – leak over social media, before it was delivered within the organisation?
I rechecked my Facebook News Feed and saw the first reactions to my colleague’s post about the layoffs. People were either reacting with “the sad face” emoticon or with “I was suspecting that” type of comment, yet what sucks the most, is that all of them found out from that specific post on Facebook.
“Could have been reported to us and not just the press” – I read the first comment, while another person replies – “It was. CEO sent an email to us this evening…was around 6 pm. So they informed us first, a bit late but we were informed…”
I rechecked my mobile, and indeed there it was – a little yellow envelope in the top left corner of a screen. I swiped down, and I read the headline – in its full shame and glory:
A message from the CEO, sent at 18:04
For a second I hesitated and thought about reading it, but finally put my mobile down. What’s the use? I have a rather pretty good idea what it says:
“Blablabla … synergy … blablabla … integration … blablabla … merger … blablabla… restructure … blablabla … competitive … blablabla … potential … blablabla … hard decision”
I read the email on Tuesday morning, as most of the other employees in the office. My predictions regarding the content were just about right:
Email from CEO titled: “A message from CEO”, sent on 6th of November 2017:
Word count: 696
- Synergy: 2
- Merger: 2
- Restructuring: 3
- Competitive: 4
- Potential: 3
- Integration: 4
Words NOT USED:
- Hard Decision: 0
- Open: 0
- Communication: 0
- Feedback: 0
- I’m sorry: 0
- I know it sucks: 0
- Don’t bother asking around; no one knows anything: 0
- Sorry for sending this email on Monday evening, while most of you are home with your families and don’t check your work emails anymore: 0
- Apologies if you found out about this on Facebook: 0
And that was just the beginning; For a month we were served with one business-jargon-overloaded-generic-poorly-timed-and-almost-depressive corporate communication campaign after another – until the day when hundreds of us got fired. Me included.
Listen, I’m not saying it’s easy to work with internal communication.
I’m not saying it’s possible to create messages that have the power to engage or to console every single soul in the company.
But damn it… it is really easy to do so much better than what many corporations are doing right now, my former employer included.
And I am about to prove it. Follow Saving Corporations: The Movement if you are curious how.