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Assignment: You are the President/CEO of ABC Industries, Inc. Due to your company’s declining performance, you are forced into a merger with your largest competitor, XYZ Industries, Inc. Your competitor has agreed to allow 80% of the workforce to stay, however, performance reviews will be mandated to assess employee value. Draft a memo explaining this scenario to your 150+ employees.
The format of your memo tells your employees a lot about your sensitivity and professionalism. Since you know that 20% of your workforce will be laid off, it is important that the empathy feels genuine and heartfelt. Pay particular attention to your memo’s margins, line spacing, font type and size, and placement of memo parts such as the addressees, subject line, and body.
Header: Begin your memo with the four standard memo heads (Date, To, From, Subject). Don’t include any aspect of the negative news in your subject line!
Remember that memos do not begin with greetings or salutations.
Include a buffer before going into the Body.
Body/Discussion: In the first Body paragraph, utilize the Indirect Approach, by first explaining the difficulties that the company has experienced recently. Make up a convincing listing of problems and array them in a bullet point listing. To this point, you should not have mentioned either of the two consequences of these problems; you are just setting the stage at this point, so that employees can understand the bases for the consequences (merger and layoffs), which you should lay out in the second paragraph of the Body.
The second paragraph of the Body is where you spell out the negative consequences. Go on to explain why a merger is vital to the survival of the company and that, unfortunately, only 80% of the workforce will be retained. Finally, detail how the decision on who will be retained will be carried out, and when employees will find out if they will be retained or let go.
Your final paragraph in the Body should provide whatever positive spin can be put on this situation. Tell what you will do to soften the blow on those let go, e.g. severance pay, extended medical and insurance benefits, job search assistance, etc.; you make up the package. Advise the employees that you will keep them posted on developments in the future as soon as these developments are decided upon. I do not suggest you go on to invite them to contact you if you have any questions.
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