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Delivering bad news? Many bosses hide behind e-Mail

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

RadioShack earned a public relations beating last year when it used e-mail notifications to alert 400 employees at its Texas headquarters that they were being laid off.

But that practice may be more popular than you think.

According to a new survey, 10% of U.S. employees say their employer has used e-mail to fire or lay off employees. In addition, 17% of employees say their bosses use e-mail to avoid difficult face-to-face conversations.

“E-mail has become the new shield of today’s business. Companies hide behind it to avoid the negative reactions of unhappy employees,” says Frank Kenna, president of Marlin Co., which commissioned the survey.

“E-mail etiquette is still in the Middle Ages,” says Kenna. “Just like companies have telephone policies, they need to have e-mail policies with clear rules for what is and isn’t permissible” information to be communicated via e-mail.

Advice: Face-to-face meetings are more uncomfortable, but they’re still the right way to handle terminations and sensitive discussions about performance or behavioral problems. Employees who feel slighted by such communications are more likely to publicly criticize your organization … and sue.

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