On August 29, RadioShack Corp. fired about 400 employees by email. The good news is that it saved the price of a ream of paper, and maybe some postage. Apparently, no one thought about the bad news — the terrible press it received for its Internet Age management gaffe. The story has been all over the media, and the blogs have had a field day with it. (Nick Roy's HR Horizons wonders if people will shop at RadioShack after this; Lori Dorn's HR Lori weighs in; Matthew Stibbe's Bad Language blog slams the wording.)
According to news reports, the email waiting for the unlucky employees that Tuesday morning read: "The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated." (Maybe we'll talk about this ridiculous use of corporatespeak in a future post.)
In its defense, the company noted that it had warned employees that the "work force reduction notifications" would be delivered electronically, and that employees were invited to ask questions on a company intranet.
Maybe it was more efficient to fire 400 people this way. But this is an example of losing sight of the obvious consequences of callous behavior in favor of increased efficiency. Yes, it's a lot of work to do a RIF (reduction in force). Yes, RadioShack is paying severance to these employees based. Fine. But it's a big deal to lose your job. And when employees feel they were treated without respect or dignity, they are much more likely to sue. And that will cost a whole lot more than a ream of paper.
The company has defended the RIF as being necessary to "improve its long-term competitive position in the marketplace." But improving its "competitive position in the marketplace" requires attracting the best talent. Who's going to want to work at RadioShack after seeing how they handled this RIF?