Cenovus process for laying off hundreds called 'demoralizing' by ex-employee

Cenovus Energy is in the midst of hundreds of layoffs. And while employees have known the cuts were coming, one former employee said she has concerns with the "demoralizing" way the company is conducting its job reductions.

But business professor says company's tactics may actually be more 'humane' in long run

Cenovus president and CEO Alex Pourbaix. Cenovus Energy is in the midst of hundreds of layoffs, after announcing plans in December to reduce its workforce by around 15 per cent — or between 500 and 700 employees and contractors. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Cenovus Energy is in the midst of hundreds of layoffs.

The company announced plans in December to reduce its workforce by around 15 per cent — or between 500 and 700 employees and contractors.

And while employees have known the cuts were coming, one former employee said she has concerns with the "demoralizing" way the company is conducting its job reductions.

The woman, who CBC News is not identifying because she's concerned speaking out could hurt her future job prospects, said an email went out on Feb. 1 outlining the dates some departments would be notified of cuts.

Staff from her department were told to be at their desks by 8 a.m. on Tuesday, and that they should expect to stay at their desks for most of the morning "to do what they need to, with regards to washroom breaks and quick trips to the kitchen."

"We just sat there and waited and when my supervisor came to the door, I knew," the former Cenovus employee said. 

"It's a little bit demoralizing. It almost took any human dignity away. To me, I've worked by butt off for six years for the company and I felt that I wasn't really treated with a lot of respect."

'Actually more humane'

The email to employees also said those laid off were "welcome to stay to say goodbye to your colleagues" but email and IT access would be cut off immediately.

Mount Royal University business professor Melanie Peacock said while the process may seem heartless, it's actually quite strategic because it can be done quickly.

"They're not going to then be running around looking for people. It will be much more organized and … in the long run and in hindsight, it is actually more humane to just do it that way — wait, know, and then be done with it," Peacock said.

A spokesperson for Cenovus told CBC News the job cuts are on track to be complete by March, but he declined to comment on how the cuts have been handled.

With files from Jennifer Lee