Lighter, News, Technology

UK Insurance Company Has An Email Accident

Computer. Image: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon

Lots of companies use email to communicate with their employees.

Most companies create email “distribution lists.” A distribution list is a group email, that lets a company send a message to many employees at once, with just one email.

Aviva is an insurance company in the United Kingdom.

Recently, someone in the company sent an email to one of Aviva’s employees who was being let go, or fired. The email gave instructions to the employee about what they needed to do, now that he’d been fired.

However, the email was accidentally sent to everyone in the company.

Aviva has 1,300 employees around the world.

That means that 1,300 people who work at Aviva were all sent an email that implied they had been fired.


But it wasn’t true.

Human resources (or HR, for short) is the department in a company that hires and fires employees.

Aviva’s human resources department sent out the email.

When employees are fired, they are usually told in person and then sent a follow-up email with more detailed information. In this case, the HR department should have only sent that follow-up email to one person.

Most people who received the emails knew it was a clerical error—in other words, a mistake. Most people didn’t think they had actually been fired.

Aviva’s HR department sent another email about half an hour later letting everyone know of the error, and apologizing for the mistake.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Mistakes easily happen over email. This article explains how Aviva accidentally emailed the entire company rather than one person about their job ending. This small mistake probably caused a lot of people stress and worry.

When people use the Internet for work, school or their personal lives, they have to be careful about the information they share and how they share it. What information do you think should be shared over email and what should be shared in person or over the phone?

What rules do you follow at school and at home to make sure you are safe when you are using the Internet?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
The really interesting part of this story lies in what has not been said. For instance, the article did not describe how people felt when they received an email out of the blue that they had just been fired. What did they do? Did they tell their work colleagues—and then find out they had also received the email? Were some of them upset? Did they get frightened or angry? Or did some people laugh?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Sentence lengths
When we write, we compose sentences of different lengths. Sometimes our sentences contain a lot of information and other times they are short and straight-forward.

Read this article again and pay attention to how the sentences vary in length. Why do you think the journalist chose to write both short and long sentences? How do the length of the sentences change how you read and understand the information in the article?