That Friday feeling felt a little different for some 1300 workers in the asset management arm of Aviva last Friday.
Instead of just one person, all these people received a memo that told them that they had to hand in their passes and passwords on their way out. The seemingly unsympathetic email also reminded them of their confidentiality agreements held with the company and duty not to share any information outside of it.
As if to end on a better note, the final line of the memo read "I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future." However, a few minutes later the staff received another email from the HR Department which apologised for the blanket email having been sent. Regardless of the fact that all but one person still had their job, this mistake will undoubtedly have worried those who kept their jobs. It perhaps showed staff the level of sympathy and respect they would be afforded should their time to be dismissed come.
Job cuts at the insurance company are part of a restructuring process currently underway. It was announced earlier last week that a number of Directors would be departing from their roles since they were no longer needed. In January they announced that would shed around 160 jobs, about 12 percent of its global workforce.
Most people have thought about the nightmare of sending an email to a work colleague and clicking "reply all" by accident. This story shows the potential affects of such a mistake. Opinion on the web seems to be unfavourable towards a dedicated HR Department, with a lot of people expressing negative views on them in contrast to management led recruitment. Little can be known about what went on before the individual to whom the email was actually intended received this particular message. One would hope that there was also a more human touch to the process especially given the fact that there is a dedicated HR Department. However, a spokesperson for Aviva commented that it was not an email to fire people and simply a generic good bye email. This suggests that the individual had hopefully been made aware of their impending dismissal by some other means and this was simply a reminder of their obligations to the company on leaving it.
The spokesman further defended the HR mistake explaining that 'People were pretty quickly aware of the fact that this was a mistake ... I don't believe any of our staff would have seen it really as anything other than the mistake that it was.' Aviva is the world's sixth-largest insurance group and the investment arm manages assets of more than £262 billion.