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December 14, 2017

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Insensitive Release of Contract Employees

Company Damages Own Reputation with Insensitive Release of Contract Employees

Dear Joan:

My husband has been working in a contract position for a Minnesota telecommunications company for the past year. Due to technical issues not related to my husband’s performance, the completion date for the job has moved out numerous times. The latest communication regarding job completion was that it would be around June/July.

Well, last night I came home to find a message on our answering machine from my husband’s supervisor, advising they had made some significant changes to the project, and he is no longer needed for this project.

Although my husband's supervisor has his cell phone number (which she has used before in the past), she decided to leave this message in an impersonal voice mail message at home. This manager left the same impersonal messages for the other 4 people on the team.

I am angry because I feel that not only is this an insensitive way to handle a job termination, but unprofessional. I guess I may be old fashioned, but I feel that this is something that should be addressed person to person (or at least in a discussion over the phone). Am I being overly sensitive, and is this just the way things are handled nowadays? Thanks for any insight you can offer.

Answer:

Unfortunately, contractors are often treated more like a “temporary resource” than people. I think your situation points that out quite clearly.

While your husband may not have been a full-time employee, he did contribute significantly over the last year. When he is not given the courtesy of a face-to-face conversation to suddenly terminate their contract, it gives the company a black eye.

These four people have now been surprised by this information and must scramble to gain other employment months sooner than they expected. The company is well within its rights to make this decision but it’s how it was communicated that feels personally disrespectful.

Surely, the four who were dismissed with an impersonal voice mail on their home phone will share this story with others, as you have shared it with me and millions of readers. What company wants that kind of bad PR?

Those are the risks of being a contractor; however, will other contractors still working there feel motivated to give 150 percent when they hear about that treatment (and you can bet the word will get around)? Will these four individuals be eager to contribute to this organization, should they be called in on another project? Will family and friends spread the word about shabby treatment from this employer in the community?

Maybe the supervisor will simply shrug and say, “Too bad. That’s business.” But I see it as a lost opportunity. And a company’s reputation as a good place to work is shaped by how people are treated…one person at a time.

What a difference a phone call makes.

-Joan Lloyd

Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership training, conflict resolution between teams or individuals, internal consulting skills training for HR professionals and retreat facilitation. Clients report results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed workforce.
Joan Lloyd has earned her C.S.P. (certified speaking professional) designation from the National Speakers Association and speaks to corporate audiences, as well as trade & professional associations across the country. Reach her at (800) 348-1944, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com

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