Big Tech showed how *not* to layoff

There is not Okay way to fire staff. But recent layoffs at the tech giants show that there is indeed a wrong way to do it

When Twitter recently released about 50 percent of its staff in a campaign of mass dismissals, former employees and experts denounced approach. Many of the affected staff members did not learn of their termination in writing or through Human Resources; found out they were released when I could not access your company email. Others, who had been outspoken in criticizing new CEO Elon Musk’s direction for the company, They got fired on the social media platform. Subsequently, several key executives give up.

Twitter is an extreme example of how not to layoff, but many companies fail to provide the transparency and resources needed to properly handle the situation. Leading with empathy and clarity can go a long way in helping workers affected by downsizing and making remaining employees feel respected.

The harm of being inhuman

The ramifications of mishandling layoffs can have far-reaching consequences for companies. Research has found that a cut of just one percent of the workforce can increase voluntary departures by more than 30 percent in the following year, and it is often because people do not trust that more cuts will not occur because leadership does not You’ve done a good job of communicating a long-term plan or strategy.

A thoughtless firing approach can also contribute to a bad workplace culture because of the strain it puts on the remaining employees. Those who remain on Twitter, for example, have reported that the loss of so many engineers has put immense pressure on other staff, which struggled to keep the site running with reduced resources. Another study, from Stockholm University and the University of Canterbury, found that after a layoff at the company, survivors experienced a 41 percent decline in job satisfaction and a 20 percent decline in job performance.

There is also always the risk that unappreciated employees will turn into litigation. But David Zweig, a professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Toronto, says that if people are treated fairly and respectfully during downsizing, being very clear about the reasons for the cuts can go a long way. as people feel valued. they will correspond to that behavior in their response. “They are much less likely to get involved in things like lawsuits or even physical or emotional deviations that can occur with people who really feel unfairly treated,” he says.

However, companies need to make sure they are familiar with the laws regarding layoffs and comply with them, or they could still run into trouble. Twitter now faces a possible class action lawsuit because its workforce in California was laid off without the mandatory 60-day notice. The length of the required job notice depends on the jurisdiction: In ontariofor example, an employee with eight or more years of experience requires eight weeks notice, in writing, of the termination of their employment contract.

How to fire staff with empathy

Handling layoffs with respect actually starts long before a downsizing period. Companies need to be careful to develop a positive work culture where everyone feels supported so that when tough times hit, employees are better equipped to weather the storm. “Codify your company purpose and values ​​so that everyone understands the common goals of the organization,” he says. jenn limCEO of Delivering Happiness and bestselling author of beyond happiness. If and when a reduction in staff occurs, leaders must ensure that those cuts are aligned with those same goals. That way, team members are more likely to understand why the layoffs had to happen.

“One of my clients, National Bank Capital CEO Joe Camberato, did such a good job of fostering empathy and respect that an employee brought him coffee and donuts the day after the layoffs,” says Lim. They were eventually able to bring in the staff they had laid off when business stabilized, and are now growing as one of the top employers in their region.

Having a plan in place that can help staff make a smoother transition will also go a long way in fostering a good relationship with departing employees. “The last few years have been difficult, and the layoffs are affecting the mental and even physical health of many people more intensely,” says Lim. Extend health insurance, such as Facebook did it when it laid off 11,000 employees earlier this month, it’s one way businesses can help. Other ways to ease the transition may include providing job search tools, personalized reference letters, and emergency financial help for employees in need.

“Giving departing staff information about things like severance, answering questions that are going to come up right away, and giving them the resources they need to recover is very, very important,” Zweig says. “All of those things help mitigate the negative impacts of the layoff.”

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