With the world economy still struggling and workers being fired left, right and center, many people turn up to work each day wondering if it will be their last. All it takes is for a few rumors to start circulating about restructuring or downsizing and before you know it the entire workforce has the jitters.

So the last thing you want to see in your work inbox is an email giving you your marching orders — especially if the email has been sent in error. But that’s exactly what happened to workers at UK-based insurance company Aviva Investors on Friday.

An email with leaving instructions meant for one employee was accidentally sent to the company’s entire global workforce of 1300 people. It told staff to hand over all property belonging to the company, together with security passes, as they left the building.

It was almost half an hour before the human resources department realized its mistake, though presumably by that time employees were already halfway through clearing their desks.

Company spokesperson Paul Lockstone confirmed the distressing mix-up, saying, “It was intended that this email should have gone to one single person,” Lockstone told Bloomberg. “Unfortunately, as a result of a clerical error, it was sent to all of the Investors staff worldwide.”

He said that most people at the company quickly realized that it had been sent in error, adding, “From time to time, things go wrong.”

However, a Daily Telegraph report said there was a “stunned silence” throughout at least one of the company’s offices as staff read the email.

Part of the correspondence said: “I am required to remind you of your contractual obligations to the company you are leaving. You have an obligation to retain any confidential information pertaining to Aviva Investors operations, systems and clients.”

The email closed with: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future.”

Once the human resources department realized its error, it sent out another email — presumably to 1299 people — explaining its error.

[Image: Andrija Markovic / Shutterstock]