TL;DR – SPH, say something leh…
The funny thing about this whole affair is that we didn’t learn about the possible retrenchments from SPH or from any official sources. But from Bloomberg. And then, Yahoo Singapore and even Mumbrella reported about the rumoured layoff.
Apparently three people from SPH spoke to Bloomberg. These three people apparently know about some plans that SPH has to merge The New Paper (good riddance) and MyPaper. Two of these three people also claimed that SPH will “cut 5 to 10 percent” of its workforce.
To know that you may be losing your job is a terrible feeling. And even if you think your job is safe, you look around and wonder whether it might be any of your buddies at work. The whole affair affects morale. Which is why retrenchment processes are usually very well planned and managed. Or perhaps we should say ‘Which is why retrenchment processes should be as well planned and managed as possible.’
Perhaps SPH had a plan. But they forgot about good old Mr Murphy. Remember Murphy’s law? Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. SPH probably didn’t expect their own staff to go around telling other people about possible staff cuts. Definitely not to Bloomberg.
Is there any truth to what those guys said? If there isn’t, shouldn’t SPH come out to emphatically refute those claims? Their silence in the face of these claims is deafening. One cannot help but conclude that what those people said is probably true.
That surely cannot help morale.
And even if those claims are true, then all the more SPH should kick into crisis management mode. Make a statement. Get on top of the media narrative. Frame the issue properly. But most importantly, speak to the staff.
There is supposed to be some town hall event. According to Bloomberg,
“Deputy Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel is planning a town hall with employees to discuss the restructuring following the announcement, which could come as soon as Thursday, the people said.”
Well… Thursday has come and (almost) gone. No town hall. No statements from SPH. Nothing. Most disconcerting.
Then, multiple sources within SPH had reportedly told Yahoo Singapore that the media group plans to hold a town hall with its employees next Monday (17 October).
Seriously, if that’s indeed the plan, but unfortunately, the layoff news got leaked ahead of the town hall, then the right(er) thing to do is to address the staff rightaway. It’s already bad enough to have to hear it from external sources, from another news outlet, but to have to wait some four days to confirm if one is going to lose one’s job is just too much. Probably the most excruciating 96 hours ever.
And once the staff have been notified and all, SPH should have quickly released a public statement. It professes to be Asia’s leading media organisation, and has so many publication and news outlets. Surely it cannot cite the lack of platforms, channels and pipes as an excuse not to tell all?
We still don’t know if there indeed will be a retrenchment exercise in SPH. We do hope that if there is, SPH will follow the guidelines that MOM laid out, especially this:
“In the event that retrenchment is inevitable, the tripartite partners have developed the following guidelines to help companies implement their retrenchment exercise in a responsible and sensitive manner, bearing in mind the impact on the affected employees. Retrenchment is a difficult time for all, especially the employees affected and their families. It is important that employees are treated with dignity and respect during a retrenchment exercise.”
We shall follow this situation as it unfolds.
Meanwhile, this song comes to mind,
I’m giving up on you.
Updated 17th Oct 2016 @6:40PM
So, we understand that a townhall took place this evening where the SPH management addressed its staff. This follows retrenchment rumours that week as well as rumours that The New Paper and MyPaper would merge to form a free paper. And oh, SPH also released its financial results last Friday evening.
Anyway, the rumours have been proven to be true. Key media outlets in Singapore have been releasing articles and updates about how SPH will merge the two publications come December and also shed 10% of its total workforce over two years in its attempt to right-size. You can read more here and here.