Texts and e-mails rule the workplace — even when getting fired


No one likes to get fired, but getting dumped via Twitter? The now-former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suffered this indignity, as did Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, but suffice it to say canning someone publicly via social media isn’t the norm.

Privately and in person is the way to go, says Dan Schawbel, a millennial expert and the author of the forthcoming “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation” (Da Capo Press).

Or is it? A small number of millennials who were asked about getting axed preferred the text option, according to a survey conducted by software company CyberLink. The study found one in eight 21- to 31-year-olds would opt to be fired via text or instant message rather than face-to-face or via a phone call.

“It’s far easier to accept rejection, or failure, when it’s over text, as opposed to actually hearing it on the phone,” says Schawbel. But he doesn’t like the idea. In fact, Schawbel’s research shows that today’s workforce yearns for human communication.

“We spend so much time at work that our co-workers become our ‘work family’ and our bosses our ‘work parent,’ so the office is where we need to get at least part of our needs for [familial] love met — but our addiction to technology gets in the way,” he says.

A survey published by executive search firm Korn Ferry found that 86 percent of millennial managers favor communicating via text or e-mail. (Meanwhile, 14 percent prefer talking face-to-face, and 3 percent said they prefer phone calls.)

That’s not all that surprising, says Samantha Wallace, a manager at the firm.

“Millennials grew up using screens as their primary form of interaction,” she says, before adding that while online messaging and e-mail are effective, face-to-face communication is needed to create an “inclusive culture.”

But workers aren’t always in the same place at the same time, says Robb Hecht, an adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College. That means that “these days, where nobody picks up the telephone anymore, the primary means of intraoffice communication is typically e-mail and Slack [a chat app that businesses use],” he says.

That’s true even when employees are sitting right next to each other, says Nate Matherson, CEO of Hoboken-based LendEDU, a Web site that helps consumers compare financial products. “I’d estimate that Slack communications take up over 80 percent of all the communications that happen internally [at LendEDU],” he says.

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