31 August 2009

It's Called Talent Management

On August 12, the employees of The Journal News, a Westchester daily owned by Gannett, were told that there would be further staff reductions at the daily paper ... the staff was not being laid off, but becoming part of a “comprehensive restructuring plan.”
Specifically, the 288 news and advertising employees ... were told that jobs were being redefined and that they all would need to reapply for the new positions and that by the time the re-org music stopped, 70 of them would be without jobs.
For the last three weeks, employees ... have lived in a netherworld in which they were asked to justify their existence ... After filling out an application on Sharepoint ... and then being interviewed by corporate human resources executives pulled in by Gannett, they were called up to the third floor of the offices in Westchester last Thursday and given an offer letter in a thin white envelope — “Thank you for your participation in the restructuring of the Information Center department at The Journal News. I am pleased to extend you an offer. ...” — or a much thicker manila envelope explaining their departure and severance.
One longtime worker who received an envelope said "After many years of great work here, I have to go into some office and tell a person who I have never met why I deserve to work (here). I probably didn't do a good enough job of hiding my disgust."
Confronted by the Hobbesian prospect of lobbying for a job they thought they already had, some simply said no thanks. The majority of the sales staff ... declined to reapply and took severance. Most chose to participate, though, because in the current environment, the management has all the leverage.
A staff member who stayed said, "I don’t feel like a winner even though I still have my job ... I wish there had been a straight-up layoff. This was very nerve-racking and agonizing. And everyone in our business has to live with this uncertainty going forward."

Read the entire article at The New York Times

Via: The Awl

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