The Downside of Technology? Using Social Networks for Announcing Downsizing

In reading Zappos Uses Social Networks for Announcing Downsizing, I thought about the ways in which organizations attempt to communicate with all of their counterparts and what might be the most successful ways of doing this.   With technology advancing as quickly as it is today, there may difficulty in realizing where the line should be drawn between using technology to further organizations and keep them as up to date as possible.  The flow of information is important to most companies but at a certain point, the privacy of both employees and upper management becomes an issue.  In reading  this article I began wondering about this aspect of privacy within organizations. Zappos used Twitter to describe the reasons for the layoffs and how the decisions were arrived at.  Even the staff’s severance packages were described in the email.  While some of this information seems relevant to the entire company, others may argue that this is an infringement of the privacy to those laid off.

Open and honest communication is a good value for the foundation of the company but posting information that usually remains within the company on a social networking site goes beyond open communication and onto privacy infringement.  I agree with the fact that this may be beneficial for employees who remain at the company so that they are “in control” of the message and rumors will not start but much information that was shared in this case has nothing to do with the rest of the company.  If employees of Zappos had specific questions about the downsizing email would have been effective or personal interactions like those that were used to initially lay off those 125 individuals would have worked just fine.

I agree it is important for organizations to stay up to date with technology but I also believe that this incident takes it to another level.  An email informing employees of the downsizing would have sufficed without posting company information on a site such as Twitter where people post information as insignificant as what they had for breakfast that morning. I think with today’s advanced technology, organizations need to rely on these systems with discretion.  In cases such as these, technology is impersonal and exceeds the limits of what is appropriate to share with the public.

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2 Responses

  1. Lets face it, all layoffs will eventually become public and they are always embarrassing and emotional. On the other hand it is the responsibility of the corporation to protects their employees from public scrutiny. Besides sending personal emails to the employees, how would you have reacted to the public side of this situation? Why shouldn’t the public know about the severance packages?

  2. Just as most employees do not want the public or even people within their company talking about and comparing salaries, employees that got laid off have a right to keep their severance packages private. Other than emails, companies should be able to personally disclose this information to the ones that are involved. Similarly, discretion should have been used to decide who was receiving the information and posting company information on a social networking site, to me, never seems like something that necessarily needs to be done. Companies sufficed without posting information on these sites before and it is not needed to share private company information now. There must be other, more professional and formal ways to inform the public of relevant decisions.

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