Kansas City Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish told NBC News 17 jobs were lost in this week’s layoffs, though its unclear how many newsroom jobs were among them.
Two reporters, Karen Dillon and Dawn Bormann, were asked to decide among themselves which would lose her job and which would stay.
In a statement e-mailed to NBC News late Wednesday, Parrish said the paper was cutting its work force by 17 positions.
“These are always difficult decisions, so we will on occasion allow employees to volunteer for a severance package when we are reducing in areas where there are two or more of the same types of positions,” Parrish said.
She added that if an employee in a group does not volunteer, “then the person with the least amount of tenure is included in the severance program.”
It’s the third round of layoffs since Parrish took the helm in the summer of 2011 – in fact, it’s the third round this year alone.
HR experts told NBC the situation at The Star – pitting employees against each other – is virtually unheard of.
“I would strongly caution any organization from insourcing layoff decisions to the employees. There’s a reason why they pay people in leadership positions more than they pay their direct reports,” said Bob Kelleher, CEO of The Employee Engagement Group and author of the new book “Creativeship: A Novel For Evolving Leaders.”
“Not only are they going to feel terrible no matter what the decision is, but the people left behind are, too, and are going to wonder what’s going to happen to them… . Do you get chosen next?” author and radio host Nan Russell, who discusses workplace issues, said.
KC Confidential reporter Bormann has lost her job, but there doesn’t appear to be any confirmation of that.
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