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Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email 333

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-intended-for-two dept.
redletterdave writes with an amusing tale of missent email. From the article: "On Friday, more than 1,300 employees of London-based Aviva Investors walked into their offices, strolled over to their desks, booted up their computers and checked their emails, only to learn the shocking news: They would be leaving the company. The email ordered them to hand over company property and security passes before leaving the building, and left the staff with one final line: 'I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future. 'This email was sent to Aviva's worldwide staff of 1,300 people, with bases in the U.S., UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands. And it was all one giant mistake: The email was intended for only one individual."
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Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email

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  • Wrong (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:36PM (#39777323)

    It will now be two people leaving the company!

    • And it was all one giant mistake

      I think it's more like snafu than mistake

    • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lohrno (670867) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:44PM (#39777403)

      Maybe ...Unless the guy they fired was in charge of sending out dismissals. This was his final (possibly intentional) mistake. :D

    • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:46PM (#39777441)

      It will now be two people leaving the company!

      In the immediate, yes. However I suspect dozens more will follow them upon realizing that the company endorses firing people via e-mail using a form letter. It's a universally bad sign when a company has streamlined it's firing process to that degree. I worked for a company where the phrase "is no longer with the Company" was so common I had to setup an Outlook filter to mark them read and remove them from my inbox. A high turnover rate is an unambiguous indicator of bad management.

      • I worked for a company where the phrase "is no longer with the Company" was so common I had to setup an Outlook filter to mark them read and remove them from my inbox.

        I've received quite a few salesperson related 'no longer with the company' emails but never so many as want to create a filter. That's unreal!

        • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:53PM (#39778355)

          Try dealing with Dell Business.

          They keep reorganizing, firing, and promoting people that by the time the ink is dry on their business cards the extensions no longer work.

          I'm not joking. I can go through any contact more than 6 months old and their phone number in their signature is dead. Emailing them entails a 24 hour turnaround time to get the new person assigned to your account to contact you.

          Nice people, but very weird communication infrastructure.

      • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by bws111 (1216812) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:03PM (#39777609)

        If you read the article, you will see that nobody was fired. Someone was leaving the company, and they got a note reminding of them of contractual obligations, procedures to be followed, and a thanks for years of service. That person would have found nothing odd at all about receiving the note. It was the people who weren't expecting the note who assumed they were fired.

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "That person would have found nothing odd at all about receiving the note."

          Let's hope that many people used 'reply all' to vent their anger.

        • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Tukz (664339) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:08AM (#39779829) Journal

          "read the article..", sorry but what does that mean?
          Do you mean to tell me the summery doesn't show the full picture of this story?

      • by emurphy42 (631808)

        firing people via e-mail using a form letter

        I didn't see anything explicitly claiming that the person was fired solely by e-mail (as opposed to being fired in person and getting the e-mail as an addendum), nor that the e-mail was a form letter.

        A high turnover rate is an unambiguous indicator of bad management.

        I work for the software division of a CPA firm, and I'm told the CPA side routinely has a certain proportion of junior employees stick around for a few years to get experience and then leave to g

      • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by WillHirsch (2511496) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:17PM (#39777725)

        Slow down there, champ. Despite TFA being headlined "[FULL TEXT]", the full contents of the email doesn't appear in the article.

        The link to Reuters [reuters.com] in the article doesn't either, but contains the following statement from Aviva's spokesman: "An email which was intended for a member of staff who was leaving today was accidentally sent to all Aviva Investors staff worldwide."

        In other words, the intended recipient was well aware he/she was leaving, not even necessarily fired, and a form letter is used to lay out information outgoing staff need to be aware of. Worth a giggle at how for a moment it might have looked like all the staff had received a surprise sacking, but not really an excuse to get out your pet grievance about large organisational structures.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gstrickler (920733)

          People don't need an excuse to gripe, just an opportunity.

          • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Funny)

            by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:53AM (#39780153) Journal

            People don't need an excuse to gripe, just an opportunity.

            God tell me about it? Give anyone a chance and they start bitching about the crap people do, it's so fucked up. Swear to god people just love to bitch about every fucking thing, no one can keep their stupid mouth shut.

            god damn bitchers...

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        depends a lot on the status of the employee. A high turnover at the 3 month point just means you're trying to only retain the best. A high turnover at the 13 year points means you're trying to dodge paying senior employees senior rates.

      • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday April 23, 2012 @10:52PM (#39778621)

        Because it would be much better to rewrite from scratch each time the instructions to people whose contract has expired, have resigned, or have been "let go".

        Rather than covering all the bases once and updating when policies change. After all leaving stuff out by mistake is much better than reusing a document.

        And when you employ a new person have the system administrators team just do it from memory too. So what if they miss a step once or twice or put someone in the wrong group much better to be personal than actually follow a well thought out and pre-written procedure.

    • Yes lets fire everyone who has made a mistake.
      Everybody needs to be perfect an never make a mistake, any mistakes will cause termination, and then a stigma will be attached to you so you can never work again. Who cares that that mistake taught you an important lesson and you will never make the same mistake again, who cares about your previous years of excellent service. You made a mistake and now you are fired, doomed to live off of the streets as an outcast, your crime, emailing the company not the indivi

  • Tacky (Score:5, Funny)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:37PM (#39777327)

    Those responsible should be sacked!

  • moral of the story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:37PM (#39777329)

    have the fucking balls to fire someone in person.

  • I am sure the employees were really happy when they heard that they weren't fired after all (well, except the guy who was fired).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:43PM (#39777393)

      That would be the worst.

      First email: You're fired!

      Second email: Oops. It was all a mistake. Only one person was supposed to be fired.

      Third email: That person is you.

      • by sjames (1099) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:00PM (#39777585) Homepage

        I was thinking first email: You're fired

        Second emaol: Can someone fix the email?

        Third email: Where is everyone? Can someone please fix the email?

      • by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:03PM (#39777613)

        That would be the worst.

        First email: You're fired!

        Oh, yah? Well screw you all! I never liked this company and pissed in the coffee daily. And Mr. CEO, I am banging your wife.

        Second email: Oops. It was all a mistake. Only one person was supposed to be fired.

        Uh....

        Third email: That person is you.

        Damn...

        • If he was banging the CEO's wife, he'd almost certainly know too much to be fired. In China or Texas he might be "terminated", but in the civilised world the CEO would probably reason thus:

          OK, he's banging my wife but:
          I know he's doing it and
          She can't complain about me banging my PA
          And he'll do what he's told...all in all, a win/win situation.

  • I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by dakkon1024 (691790) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:40PM (#39777357)
    How many "How you really feel" comments went around during this time that people are going to now have to live with.
  • by Veetox (931340) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:40PM (#39777361)
    This should have happened to the United States Congress.
  • That's pretty cold to send a termination email and not bother including their name in the message.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:41PM (#39777367)

    Never hire an employee named "allstaff".

  • Their new email system will now redirect termination emails sent to all employees back to the sender.
  • keep up. This is days old.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The person wasn't fired. It seems to be a typical "last day" e-mail given to anyone leaving voluntarily.

  • by bakes (87194) on Monday April 23, 2012 @07:53PM (#39777499) Journal

    This is not the first time that Alan 'Call me Al' Staff has caused this problem.

  • I imagine the person who sent the email will be getting their own personalized copy very soon.
  • HR Departments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by owlnation (858981) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:15PM (#39777703)
    Human Resource Departments: the single biggest brake on the World's economy. The reason for the lack of productivity, innovation and creativity in most large enterprises.

    It's a job that nobody with a brain ever wanted to do. Actually, it's a job that nobody ever wanted to do. Nobody ever grows up wanting to work in HR. The only people who do work in HR, are those who have failed. And they bear a grudge.

    Which explains why their inhumanity creates situations like this one, and so many similar situations. With the technology currently available, real managers can manage. HR staff need to be fired. All of them, everywhere. The world never really needed them in the first place, but there's no justification for having them now.

    The first corporation that has the insight to fire all its HR people will wipe the floor with its competition within 5 years. They will have all the advantages of a small business, mixed with the power of a corporation. And they will have MUCH happier, more productive, employees.
    • Re:HR Departments (Score:4, Informative)

      by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:40PM (#39777909)

      The first corporation that has the insight to fire all its HR people will wipe the floor with its competition within 5 years. They will have all the advantages of a small business, mixed with the power of a corporation. And they will have MUCH happier, more productive, employees.

      I agree, until of course, someone critical leaves and they discover "Opps, we didn't have a non-compete or even a non-solicit signed by them." Or "We're being sued because some manager violated a bunch of employment laws during the hiring process." That person we just hired as a driver? It would have been nice to know he had six DUIs before we gave him the keys to one of out trucks.

  • I really did just change my name to Majordomo.

  • happens all the time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:18PM (#39778159) Journal

    I was an administrator for a medium size tech company in the early nineties, and we got this all the time. The problem was not with the technically inept, but with the engineers, who would commonly send emails with:

    mail -s "some subject line text" user_name (left_arrow) textfile

    ...and leave off the double quotes, so that each word in the subject line was treated as a recipient. If one of those words was the name of the company or the name of any of several cities, or any one of a number of other common key words, (like "engineering") the mail would be propagated to an audience much larger than intended. You haven't lived until you've been directed to scrub several thousand copies of someone's negative performance review from a number of servers at 11:00 at night.

    This was the same company that had a homegrown script to delete a user from the system. (Not written, maintained or owned by my team, I hasten to say.) The script had inadequate error checking, and if an operator hit carriage return without entering a user name, the script would delete the entire home directory structure on several machines. It kept us busy.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:12PM (#39778699) Journal

    It happened when I was in support. I couldn't clock in. A told the manager about it and she was like, "maybe you got fired". We both had a good laugh about it because we were all on good terms. No mass layoffs were expected, this was the go-go 90s. Next day--still can't clock in. Manager is more serious. "I'll have to look into this". Sure enough, somebody fat-fingered me off the payroll.

    It was actually a good thing--I got paid for my accumulated vacation hours. They couldn't figure out how to charge them back to vacation. They "re-hired" me and I got money. The vacation hours started accumulating from zero; but I had just taken a few days so I didn't mind saving up again. The money came in handy.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:01AM (#39779379)

    The second snafu is when 500 of those people did a Reply-All saying "sod off wankers!"

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