Harris Interactive just released the results of its "Attitudes in the American Workplace" poll, and as usual, there's something about the effects of the digitization of the workplace, as well as information about how layoffs are affecting Americans.
This time, however, there's an interesting convergence between the two subjects:
U.S. workers may want to think twice before opening email from their boss. According to a new national survey, 10% of U.S employees say their company has used email to fire or lay off employees. And 17% indicated their boss used emails to avoid other difficult face-to-face conversations.
OK, despite the obvious problem with this paragraph (i.e., workers who don't open emails from their boss probably won't be around to feel the pain of the pink slip) it is interesting that this regrettable practice -- using the sterile communication form of email for such a difficult topic -- is on the rise.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the news -- these days, people are ending relationships through the use of text messaging -- however, the practice goes against my idea of the moral and honorable (not to mention adult) commitment between employer and employee, and while layoffs may be an unfortunate reality in the manufacturing workforce, using a digital "shield" to do so goes against many time-tested management best practices (such as the Toyota management system's "respect for people", which frowns on the principle of layoffs altogether).
(And by the way, whatever you decide to do with your line employees, for the sake of your business don't piss off your IT department.)
On a different note, the Harris survey also reported that U.S workers make other email-related errors at work. One in five (and that was the honest one) said they had sent an email to the wrong person, and 38% had sent an email without an intended attachment.
If you're using Outlook, and about 450 million business users are today, there's a couple built-in features that allow you to escape this particular form of looking unprofessional.
The other forms, I can't help with -- unfortunately, I'm looking for the cure myself...