‘Occurrence’ worries– Lexis lay-offs?

Is Lexis Nexis about to give a bunch of its employees the boot? In the past two years, the company that anchors the east end of the Downtown Mall has reduced its Charlottesville workforce from 600 to 300, including last year's sell-off of the printing portion of the business to Cadmus Communications Corporation, which took on about 90 Charlottesville Lexis employees.

Now, a February 17 article in London's Daily Telegraph indicates that remaining employees of Reed Elsevier–- Lexis' Anglo-Dutch parent company–- should keep their resumes polished. According to the Telegraph, which cites several unnamed analysts, Reed Elsevier plans to axe 1,000 of its 37,000 global positions to help save $200 million over the next two to three years. All of the positions cut will be outside Great Britain, the article claims.

At the local Lexis operation, employees are "anxious," say sources too fearful to use their names. They cite several new policies implemented since January as examples of ways the company may be trying to push them out: 120 editors were converted from salaried to hourly status in January, a move some fear could make it easier to fire them.

Also implemented in January: a system by which employee comings and goings are tracked. Anyone who arrives late, leaves early, or calls in sick without giving a full 24 hours notice is given a citation called an "occurrence." According to sources, as few as seven such "occurrences" can result in termination. In addition, many employees were suddenly forced to sign a release allowing the company to do credit and criminal background checks, something one employee believes might have been the company's way of seeking to cut more positions without having to provide severance compensation.

A Chicago-based LexisNexis spokesperson in the public relations department, who also requested anonymity because "that's our policy," would neither confirm nor deny the allegations in the Telegraph report, nor would he comment on any possible lay-off plans in Charlottesville. He did say the change from salaried to hourly has no effect on severance packages, and that the background checks are standard procedure at many if not most international companies. Still, the lack of answers leaves local Lexis employees wondering.

"We're nervous," says one anonymous Lexis-ite, who has heard intra-office discussions about proposed job cuts hitting home. "We don't know what's happening."

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10 comments

Given that some information might be embargoed for legal and compliance reasons (which is fair enough) what sort of communication would you WANT to see from management, and how often?

Would hearing that "yes, there is stuff happening but we can't tell you" actually be of any use to you? (My personal view is "yes it would" since it would make me feel "part of the process" in some way, not just a slave to it...)

I have tried to put some of this in context over here (http://divestmentwatch.blogspot.com/2008/03/worries-in-rest-of-reed-else...) I hope this helps?

"calls in sick without giving a full 24 hours notice"? Is this for real? How does one go about arranging for advance knowledge of illness yet-to-come?

OpsMgr, your comments help. I am in complete agreement. In my many years at this company, the level of communication is at its poorest. Knowledge is closely held by a few people at the highest reaches of Reed Elsevier, middle management struggles to fill the gap, and HR has been completely passive and uninvolved.

I foresee The Hook will be running corrections to this story very soon, as half of the "facts" given above are utter crap. I say that as someone who has worked at LexisNexis for several years (not a manager, just a regular Joe). For one thing, the conversion from exempt (salaried) to non-exempt (hourly) made employees eligible for overtime pay and in no way reduced their benefits. If you work in VA you should know that it is easy to be fired at any time, regardless of whether you are salaried. Regarding routine policy changes mentioned in the article, all were introduced and explained with meetings and/or email communications from management. Personally, I think it irresponsible for a paper to publish an article without any fact-checking, based on office gossip from an anonymous source or two.

Just wanted to comment on your post OpsMgr and others. I am a LN employee, though not in C'Ville. I will concur that the communications are horrible. This is the feeling from the entry level employees all the way to the VP levels of LN. Every employee is an adult and should be treated as an adult. To BS around with the truth is simply horrible.

There is a softening of the economy, jobs will be cut, costs reduced, etc. I think we can all see that, but if you don't provide info to the employees, the will "create their own reality."

Add to this the recent corporate emails about a standardization of the severance packages and it all begins to look ominous.

And re: Another Perspective, I don't know how long you have been with the company, but I was here for the last round of layoffs. The same process is being followed this time, little info, much hand-holding and reassurance that nothing bad will happen, mysterious manager meetings, people taking extra vacation, etc. Then one morning you will walk in and someone will be standing at your desk, ask you to come to HR, and then escort you off site.

Change happens, as do layoffs. A little honesty will go a long way...

Well, the news from today's LN meeting was much worst than I was honestly expecting. They are outsourcing 300+ jobs starting in 3-months and over a 9-month period they will continue until everything has been outsourced to India. I don't remember the actual numbers but starting in 3-months a percentage will be laid-off and then more each month all the way through to February 2009.

As it stands today, we have at least 3-months of employment at which time we will find out how long they will keep each of us between then and February 2009.

I worked there for two years and hated it, but I feel sorry for everyone who will lose their job. LN-CHO was mismanaged terribly: some folks worked all the time, others had nothing to do. I often went weeks without having anything to do and was bored out of my skull. Anyway, best of luck to everyone who is now looking for work. Keep your chin up.

Well I think the truth needs to be told here. LexisNexis was job prize for people 10 to 15 years ago. I am an employee there now and I can say that it has declined in prestige and honor. I was proud to say I was an employee there. Now I am embarrassed simply because of how our company has been managed by Andy Prozes and the lack of valuing the employee.
Lets start with the outsourcing and offshoring. I hear that it could be an 80/20 company before the end of 2009. What does that mean, 80% offshore to India while 20% on campus employees. Why is this done? To reduce the overhead and paying people pennies on the dollar for this offshored workforce who cannot be understood in conversation.
Lets now move on to one of Lexisnexis core values. Valuing Your People. Since the late 90's, the company has gradually moved away from this concept. Again, this was a great company to work for however now, the health care costs have been passed onto the employee and the coverage is worse. Their reasoning, All companies are moving to this strategy. It was so bad when the Benefits group gave a presentation on the new health care plan, that they cut the meeting short and walked out due to employee questions that couldn't be answered, tough questions. Just one example of passing the costs on to the employee.
The bad environment is created by management teams that are sycophants. They backstab their employees and never have any accountability when they screw up, which happens all of the time. Ive personnally have listened to employees stories about how management has completely lied and harmed careers. My advice was to bring it to their attention and then go to HR to get it on record. Boy was I wrong, HR is there as the whipping boy for management. They have no interest in helping an employee just to make sure the employee stays in line.
Employees at LexisNexis just want to be treated like professionals but we are treated like children. Some may say well if you dont like it, just leave. You see, I drank the kool aid and now it may be too late for me. My eyes are open and it may be too late for a new job but who knows. The real fix here is to uproot this upper management regime and bring in people that accomplish the business goals without changing the way we do business and treat people like they should be, with respect and dignity. LN is raising an army of impersonal management teams that are out to destroy the morale of every employee by brutish, hit of the head style management.
Are you listening Andy, Crispin?

PS The real kick in the nuts here is that while a serious number of people are being let go, the company is spending money on new construction in our main buildings and even building a coffee shop in the cafeteria. Dressing up the piggy before you sell it?

LN still uses DOS based software. Does anything else need to be said?