Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 7, 2023

What not to do when laying off people

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

Elon Musk drama seems to be almost impossible to avoid now since he has taken over Twitter, if it is not one thing it is another. Personally I feel that he has bought Twitter and can do whatever he wants with it whether the rest of us like it or not. He has been firing people pretty much since he took over, last week was the most recent batch where ~200 folks were laid off.

What is interesting and super unprofessional is that it looks like the folks who were laid off didn’t get an official notice that they have been terminated, instead their access just stopped working one day. Haraldur Thorleifsson, who was a senior director at Twitter was one of the folks impacted by this, so they reached out to HR at Twitter who didn’t (or maybe couldn’t) answer the simple question “Please confirm if I am an employee or not?”. After 9 days of getting nowhere, he posted a public thread on Twitter tagging Musk asking if he was laid off.

Dear @elonmusk

9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees.

However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails.

Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?

Elon was as ‘classy’ as ever and with jokes, silly emojies and then publicly mocked their disability, insinuated that they exaggerated their disability and saying they “did no actual work.”.

It is his right to fire people, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it and this is definitely the latter. When Vinit was running his own company and had to lay off people because of funding issues, he did it in a fantastic way (See below) and I have seen other folks do the same thing.

Four years after he started, a website for construction materials, Vinit Bhansali realised with horror that he had lay off eight employees. “It’s hard to tell your team you have to let them go. So, I reached out to everyone I knew — old friends from school, investors, acquaintances in the startup space — to find them jobs. Even VCs who had chosen not to invest in my company helped out and shared the resumes with startups in their portfolio,” he says. Eventually all eight were placed.

I have been part of companies that laid off employees and it was a painful experience even for those of us who weren’t laid off. All of us leveraged our connections to connect the folks impacted with teams that were hiring, a quick search on Mastodon/Twitter will get you links and posts from folks who don’t even know the folks impacted reaching out to help in anyway they can. That is humanity, that is how a person should behave.

This way of firing where a person doesn’t even know for sure they are fired or not is the worst way to fire someone, ghosting an employee is not a mature/professional way to do this. Imagine the stress an employee goes through if they are not able to log in even once due to a mistyped password or other technical issues. Then you have the uncertainty of not knowing if you are still employed and can afford to pay rent, buy groceries etc. For Musk its all a big joke because he never had to deal with not being able to afford food or have to worry about the rent being late but for most of the others people in his company they do have to worry about this along with a whole other set of responsibilities.

Have I been laid off?

The worst part is that a lot of people don’t see anything wrong with this. They still think he is the greatest thing to happen for mankind where in reality he is just another narcissistic billionaire who has gone back on pretty much every promise he ever made.

– Suramya

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