In an age of online media and decreasing human contact, once sacred rules of the workplace are now being cast aside. Among these rules is the one that letting an employee go takes the form of a face-to-face conversation with an accompanying letter. Ideally, the process should be approached in the most dignity-preserving way possible.
As technology and culture has advanced, so the in-person termination evolved to a phone conversation to a dismissal email to the newest apparent trend: Terminating via social media.
Angel Clark, a radio broadcaster from Delaware, recently found out that she no longer had a radio show after receiving a Facebook message from her station’s program director. The brief message, in part, said, “Effective today, WGMD is cancelling your weekend program. Your services will no longer be needed. I appreciate the time you have given us. We are moving in a different direction with our weekend programming.”
Clark didn’t especially object to her termination, recognizing that it’s an unfortunate reality of radio, but took extreme offense to the manner in which her employer shared the news. Her former employer defended the method of communication (responding to my Facebook message), saying, “In the case of this employee, it was common practice to conduct business communication via email and Facebook. It is not a normal practice for the company but traditionally the easiest way to contact this employee during her non work hours. This communication was done in complete privacy and in no way meant to be made public by the management of WGMD. We wish Ms. Clark the best.”
Examples of people being fired over activity on social media are relatively common (and they usually deserved it); but being fired via social media is rare–though not unheard of–phenomenon. A screenshot of a woman’s Facebook wall went viral last year showing her make several derogatory remarks about her boss and company alongside her boss’ reply announcing the end of her employment.
In 2010, 16-year old Chelsea Taylor from the U.K. was sent her dismissal notice from a local cafe on Facebook.
Human resources consultant and president of 22c Partners Barbara Quinn said, “Contrary to public opinion, most executives and managers dread having to tell someone they are being terminated. Hiring mistakes are made but bosses owe it to their employees to have the decency and courage to make a phone call if face to face is not possible.” She adds, “Fundamentally, people fear conflict so using a written channel is a supreme act of cowardice.”
Is social media just a more convenient way of letting someone go or does it add insult to injury? Leave your comments below!