Traffic Lights and Layoffs: How a U.K. Company Used One for the Other

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Here’s a layoff story that has to be read to be believed:

“All 16,000 employees of Everything Everywhere, the mobile phone company created by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, were told last month whether or not their jobs were safe at mass meetings” across the United Kingdom.

From The website:

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Up to 1,200 middle managers and back office staff who could lose their jobs by the end of the Christmas holidays were shown a red light and told they were ‘at risk’. Other staff saw the light go yellow, which meant they must re-apply for their existing job. Some 30pc of these roles face the axe under current proposals.

A blue light indicated their job had been ‘mapped’ into the new business plan and were being kept on. A green light showed the creation of a limited number of new roles.

The presentations were made in public in front of between 30-60 colleagues. Some employees are thought to have had no idea that their jobs were at risk before the humiliating public meeting. One employee said: ‘Some of the people got up and walked straight out of the room, others sat there crying, others were absolutely dumbstruck.’

Everything Everywhere said: ‘Wherever possible, members of our senior management team explained the proposed changes at face-to-face meetings to ensure teams received the information consistently and had the opportunity to ask questions.’”

Michael Burd, head of employment at law firm Lewis Silken, said he had “never heard” of such a public way of breaking news to employees in his 26 years as a lawyer. He said every employee who was shown a red light and loses their job after the consultation is likely to be able to file a claim for unfair dismissal.”

Some things can’t be believed — and can’t be made up.

This was originally published on Fran Melmed’s Free-Range Communication blog.