In the summer of 1991, the Eastman Kodak Company — headquartered in my old stomping grounds of Rochester, NY — was experiencing a very significant downsizing event. While attempting to increase profitability, Kodak was compelled to treat their dependable employees as mere commodities. Therefore, in order to notify their employees that they no longer had a job, Kodak relied upon — you guessed it — the dreaded pink slip. As gossip of the downsizing event spread quickly, the Flower City was truly immersed in trepidation. Rumor had it that when a Kodak employee detected someone approaching them in the hallway with a pile of pink papers in their hand, the employee would desperately try to conceal their identity while subsequently turning around and hastily walking away in a different direction.
Today, however, we’re much more civilized. We would never inflict such cruel and unusual punishment on our labor force. Indeed, the manner in which downsizing is accomplished today is much more refined — it’s called text messaging, emailing, and faxing. And when it comes to texting, proper grammar surely isn’t used because that would be entirely inefficient. Accordingly, instead of the word “you,” it’s just the letter “u.” As an alternative for the contraction “you’re,” it’s simply the letters “ur.” Nevertheless, it’s very important to remember that “fired” is still spelled “fired.”
Yet, in our current workforce environment which is so politically correct, is sending a text message, forwarding an email, or transmitting a fax, truly the best method for letting someone know they’ve just lost their job? It just seems so impersonal. These modern modes of communication also appear to lack the complete sense of astonishment associated with seeing someone approaching you with a pink slip in their hand. But of course, I’m a dinosaur. However, when I routinely ask my associates whether or not they’ve made definite contact with others, I typically get the same response, “Well, I faxed it,” or “I sent an email,” or “I texted the person,” and all the while my colleagues are making the assumption that everyone has, in fact, been notified. In this instance, what happens when the downsized employee actually shows up for work the next day and it’s someone’s assignment to ask, “Didn’t you receive the text message?,” or “Didn’t you read the email?,” or “Didn’t you see the fax?” I somehow think that if that same downsized employee — as they were walking down the hall while still thinking they were employed and nothing was wrong — observed someone standing there with a pink slip in their hand, it would be much more effective.
Who says we’ve greatly advanced our systems of communication? If it was up to me, when it comes to downsizing, I say give employees the good old pink slip. Thus, it’ll be a certainty that they’ll be properly informed.
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