E-mail is a wonderful communication tool! A great way to communicate with numerous individuals simultaneously! So easy to use! All it takes is the push of a button . . . in this case to mistakenly fire 1,300 employees.
Bloomberg reports that the HR Dept. of the investment unit of Aviva PLC (the UK’s second largest insurer by market value) mistakenly sent an e-mail firing all of the unit’s 1,300 employees before retracting the message. Recipients were instructed to turn over company property as they left the building and reminded of their obligation to safeguard the company’s confidential information.
It turns out the HR Dept. meant to send the message to 1 employee, not 1,300 employees around the world.
Aside from the addressing error that resulted in the message being sent to all employees in the unit, situtations like this highlight the need for organizations to establish and communicate rules on the appropriate use of e-mail. Is it really appropriate to fire an employee by e-mail?