Kmart looks to familiar face to repair employee comms

TROY, MI: At a time when Kmart is beset with problems stemming from leaked memos and talks of fraudulent accounting practices, the retailer is bringing back a veteran of its communications staff, Mary Lorencz, as its director of internal communications.

TROY, MI: At a time when Kmart is beset with problems stemming from leaked memos and talks of fraudulent accounting practices, the retailer is bringing back a veteran of its communications staff, Mary Lorencz, as its director of internal communications.

Lorencz had retired as director of media relations from Kmart after it hired Lori McTavish last year as VP of communications. Lorencz agreed to work on a contract basis as McTavish came on board, and then as Kmart went through its bankruptcy filing.

Lorencz's hiring is part of Kmart's efforts to improve its employee communications.

"Mary's a communications veteran who knows the company, and she knows what matters to Kmart associates, said McTavish, now a Kmart SVP. Employee communications had begun reporting to McTavish after a company reorganization earlier this year.

Kmart's employee communications practices have been in the news recently because of an e-mail from its CEO to employees asking them to tell the company if it knows of wrongdoing by other employees.

Employees have reportedly leaked unsigned memos to authorities about possible accounting fraud at Kmart.

McTavish said Adamson's June 6 e-mail to employees wasn't intended to focus on the leaked letters. It discussed the company's new code of conduct, the availability of a hotline employees could use to reach management, and the open-door policy management has.

"The e-mail was more about those things than the specific leak, she said. With employee training beginning for the new company code of conduct, "we felt it was an appropriate time to reiterate with our associates an opportune way to communicate with the company, she said.

Other steps Kmart has taken to improve employee communications include a monthly CEO forum with headquarters employees, a monthly broadcast by senior managers to all company locations, and regular e-mails to employees tied to news events or bankruptcy developments.

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