Edmonton workers told to 'be thankful' for jobs via whiteboard message

A notice reminding Edmonton workers they could be easily replaced amid the economic downturn continues to draw backlash online even though it was erased weeks ago.

Even though it was erased weeks ago, notice lives on, drawing plenty of flak online

This pointed message to PermaCorp employees was posted in an Edmonton office early this month. (Reddit)

Although it was erased weeks ago, a notice reminding Edmonton workers they could be easily replaced amid the economic downturn continues to draw backlash online.

In the message scrawled on an office whiteboard, a manager told employees at PermaCorp Group of Companies they should be "thankful" for their jobs because thousands of unemployed Albertans were waiting to take their place.

Since a photograph of the note surfaced online in early June, hundreds have taken to social media to criticize the company. 

The note reads: 

Why you should be thankful for your job here at PermaCorp:

1. Our owners have wisely diversified the products and services that we offer in order to create multiple streams of income. This makes us relatively stable because we aren't relying on only one business sector to bring in money.  i.e. only oil or only residential

2. There are tens of thousands of people unemployed in Alberta right now.

3. Since Christmas I regularly come to work and find hundreds of resumes in my inbox. Sometimes more than one thousand. If I need to find another employee it is so easy. Be thankful that you are one of the lucky ones that already work here!

Management at PermaCorp, a construction and oilfield fabrication supplier, released a public statement indicating the notice was "written without management consent and promptly removed."

"Issues related to that message have been handled internally. The message sent does not align with our core values of personal growth and diversity," the statement said. 

"PermaCorp as a whole is working together to pull through the economic downturn. With the most important objective being the protection and creation of jobs."

The statement failed to calm the online anger, however. 
(Permacorp/Facebook )

"This is the power of social media right now," said Margot Ross-Graham, a management and leadership consultant based in Edmonton.

Ross-Graham says the note is a form of workplace bullying and is likely symbolic of a highly toxic work environment. She adds workers were likely too afraid to address the passive-aggressive message head-on.

"Employees are in a tough situation, because if they react it to it, they get bullied more, or if they don't react, then they have to abide by it."

When the note was posted online, management was forced to react, said Ross-Graham during a Tuesday morning interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Branded as boorish

"Everybody else takes care of that problem. The general population took care of that problem, that particular manager. They had everyone else react to this and call it disastrous."

Ross-Graham says it's unfortunate the entire company is being branded as boorish because of one manager.

Even with a public statement and an internal review, though, she believes the company will continue to pay the consequences.

"People absolutely won't stand for (workplace bullying) anymore," Ross-Graham said.

"They may not be able to leave the organization right now because of the environment that we're in, but once the economy changes, those individuals with really fantastic skills … won't stick around with that organization.

"We might not see the backlash today, but we will."


Wallis Snowdon is a journalist with CBC Edmonton focused on bringing stories to the website and the airwaves. Originally from New Brunswick, Wallis has reported in communities across Canada, from Halifax to Fort McMurray. She previously worked as a digital and current affairs producer with CBC Radio in Edmonton. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca.