Viacom's layoff letters balance facts and emotions

Executive memos convey empathy, not corporate jargon, to laid-off workers.

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Ragan Insider Content

Executive memos convey empathy, not corporate jargon, to laid-off workers

Viacom is just one of a slew of companies to announce major layoffs recently; the way its leaders told employees sets it apart from many of its peers.

The company—whose brands include MTV, VH1, BET, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures—announced a 7 percent (or 850-person) work force reduction Thursday. President and CEO Philippe Dauman and CFO Tom Dooley sent a joint all-employee e-mail the same day; shortly thereafter, Judy McGrath, CEO of MTV Networks, sent an e-mail to workers in her division.

The authors of both memos avoided the more common clinical communication style in such situations—and succeeded in balancing factual information and empathy.

Wrote the CEO and CFO (read the full memo here):

“…With less than a month until the close of 2008, our entire organization continues to do everything possible to anticipate and adapt to the unprecedented changes affecting all our businesses. We know it hasn’t been easy and we couldn’t be more proud or more appreciative of how you have risen to the challenge.

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