The Better.com Firing

The Better.com Firing

Subtitled: Like I needed yet another reason to detest Zoom. 😒

I’m a bit late on this, but I couldn’t not  record an episode about the bizarre mass firing that took place via, what else, a frickin’ Zoom call back in December.

Key topics:

✔️ I understand that during the pandemic, no one is going to fly in George Clooney à la Up in the Air to sit down with people in person and blow a bunch of smoke. But a mass firing via video call? Really?  Seems pretty raw.
✔️ The tone seemed monotone to me. I’m not sure that someone shedding crocodile tears would have been any better, but the whole mise en scène struck me as a robotic.
✔️ Be leery of any company that still relies on outdated sales metrics. They will set you up to fail and then blame you when their outmoded tactics do not work. Phone time is a great example.
✔️ Worrying about what kind of food and beverage is in each office while referring to your own employees as “dumb dolphins” is screwed the hell up.

Special intro music: “Better Now” by Post Malone.

Links I discuss in this episode:

https://nypost.com/2021/12/06/better-com-ceo-fires-900-employees-on-zoom-call/

Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/

 

Transcription by Otter.ai.  Please forgive any typos!

Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online any time at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to write in about their own workplace psychopathy experiences. It’s sad that so many of us have been through experiences like that, but it’s just not shocking. So everyone that took the time to send me a DM or an email about what you experienced. Thank you. Thank you very much. And I do appreciate it. Sorry that we’ve all had to go through it. But I thank you for taking the time to share your stories with me. And as a segue from there, I couldn’t not record an episode about the better.com CEO firing 900 employees via a zoom call. Now, the news of that broke back in December, but I was already behind on recording episodes about the great resignation. And then the show needed to go on hiatus, I needed to hibernate, so I knew that I was going to record an episode about this insanity. But I knew I would also have to wait until sometime in January. But there was no way that I could not record an episode about it because it hits on so many of the topics and so many of the points that I tried to make week upon week on this podcast. And it’s interesting, because during the hibernation period, I read the novels The Firm, and also The Devil’s Advocate, I guess I was on some kind of a legal fiction kick. But I saw both of those movies when they came out in the 90s. And at the risk of sounding like the stereotypical English major nerd I will say that the novels are different from the film’s sometimes it’s difficult to compress down hundreds of pages from a novel into an hour and a half or two hour long feature film, it’s just certain things are going to be left behind. And then Hollywood thinks they need to modify sometimes the suspense and the foreshadowing. So the movies are kind of like at warp speed, and certain elements of the plots get changed. But one of the things that the novels have in common is the super creepy mentality of the company is your family. You must be one of us. Your boss should be like your mom or your dad and your co workers should be like your siblings, and you should just be here all the time. The firm is your family, family family. So I was going to record an episode about that. And I definitely will because I want to start dispelling all the BS around this the company is your family, you owe them your life. No the hell you don’t. And this Better.com situation just highlights that even further, it brings it home even more. So I’m going to read from the article in The New York Post from December 6th of 2021, titled better.com CEO fires 900 employees on Zoom call accuses them of stealing. Now before I start reading, it’s a foregone conclusion, especially if you’re a frequent listener of this podcast that I detest zoom, I do not utilize it in my practice. And I think it can not only be overused for things that could have either been a telephone call an email or a text message. It’s like extroverts just want to use Zoom to use Zoom. But it can also be used for discriminatory purposes and by by bigots and racists who want to check you out and see if there’s some reason to call you from the herd or to keep from hiring you. And that’s a really despicable thing. I talked about this back on the great resignation Part Two episode that I did back in December, it’s like, always make sure that you are aware of what’s happening. And if someone is asking you for a zoom call, they really they have some burning need to see you on video, but it just doesn’t seem to make any logical sense. You want to ask yourself why that might be. Again, I’m not saying everybody who uses that platform is doing it to be a bigot. We’re doing it to discriminate. I’m just pointing out that there are some bad actors out there and we need to be aware that they exist. So now this guy from better.com has given me another thing to add to my list of reasons why I freaking hate zoom, the mass firing. Now I get it. We’re still dealing with COVID and whatever variant that we’re on this point in time, so people are not going to fly in somebody like George Clooney in up in the air. You’re not going to get in close those quarters in a small office with a stranger who’s just been traveling all over the country and have them give you a folder of materials and some pamphlets and sit there and condescend to you and patronize to you of oh, this could be the best thing that ever happened to you. You know, please Don’t lash out and freak out about getting laid off because you know, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened. Here’s your folder move along. That’s not going to happen right now with the pandemic that George Clooney is not going to show up and guide you through it in person, I get that. But ah, it just does feel kind of raw to imagine being herded onto a yet another flipping zoom call and then being told Bomp bomp, if you got called here today, your jobs gone bye bye effective immediately. I mean, that that had to smart, I know that it did, and I feel terrible for those people. So now I’ll read from the article in The New York Post. The boss of online mortgage lender better.com laid off some 900 employees on a zoom call, then slammed the ex workers for allegedly stealing from our customers by not being productive. Vishal Garg and I’m just going to break in long enough to say I hope I’m not mispronouncing that name. I hate to mispronounce people’s names. I’m doing phonetically the best I can. Vishal Garg, the New York based company CEO struck an unapologetic tone when announcing the mass firings to affected workers on the now viral call, a recording of which was later posted on Tik Tok, YouTube and other social media accounts. Now, rather than reading a transcript of what was said, I’m just going to play you a brief clip here. If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately. It’s been a really, really challenging decision to make. This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger. I don’t know about you. But to me that sounded pretty monotone and robotic. I don’t want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried. And honestly, I don’t know which is worse. somebody sitting there doing a bunch of fake pathos and blubbering with crocodile tears about how sad they are, when really they’re not, or someone being monotone and telling you I really hate to do this. This is not my idea. Have a good time. I mean, I guess the outcome is the same either way. So now I want to read some additional material from this New York Post article. The 43 year old said that the market has changed and that the company had to slim down to remain nimble enough to adapt to the evolving housing market, which appears to be cooling after a pandemic boosted boom, though Garg didn’t mention on the call the company’s 750 million cash infusion it got from investors last week. The CEO was later out it as the anonymous author of a scathing blog post that slammed better.com employees on the professional network blind. Wow. So just when you think it couldn’t get any crazier just when you think the plot couldn’t thicken any further, I’ll But wait, there’s more. Now I’m going to read from the article again and they are quoting his scathing blog post here. You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of two hours a day while clocking eight hours plus a day in the payroll system. The father of three wrote they were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills get educated, he added Garg confirmed to fortune that he was the author of the searing post. Oh my. I’ll continue to read on the Zoom call. Garg told the laid off employees that the company would provide four weeks of severance and one month of full benefits as well as other coverage as part of a package on the call. Garg suggested that low productivity in addition to the changing market conditions led to the layoffs. Speaking to Fortune, he said that four weeks ago, the firm the firm, okay, I need to stop being silly. Here. The firm started reviewing employee productivity data, including missed telephone call rates, number of inbound and outbound calls, employee showing up late to meetings with a customer and other metrics. As we started to slow down our pace of hiring we saw some alarming statistics and a number of our customers were not getting the service that they deserve from our teammates. He said, guard reportedly has built a reputation for having high expectations and punishing employees over tiny infractions and quote now before I go on to to continue From this New York Post article, you know, I can’t say that that surprised me, surprises me. Because when I have worked at companies that monitored phone time, and they wanted to know how many times did your phone ring, how many calls did you take in a day? How much phone time did you have? There was always this sense of like impossible expectations. And there was also a divorce from reality. Because you would have top producers that had low phone time, they were doing things I would say in accordance with the Pareto principle where 80% of your results is going to come from 20% of what you put in. And instead of spending a bunch of time making bullshit telephone calls that went nowhere, they were actually doing high level activities that would lead to deals getting closed. You want to know who had phone time, every flippin week, it would be people that were calling up random clients or buddies or whatever, and being like, Well, hey, how’s your wife? How’s your kids? How’s Bob and them? How’s your mom and dad? Oh, did you how how’s the deer hunting going for you? Oh, have you caught any fish yet? I mean, they could sit and jabber jaw about social topics and not close a paper bag. But yet phone time. So one of the things that I want to say here is, especially if you’re getting into any type of sales and marketing job, if you can tell that the team is really like asked up over metrics from a bygone era. Don’t walk, run, okay, phone time is no longer a good yardstick. In my opinion, of production. The two things don’t necessarily go together. It would be like if your sales manager came into the room and said, Well, hey, Sally, Sue, how many faxes Have you sent out today? Well, zero, because that’s not going to pay off and nobody’s going to read a flippin fax. It’s not 1993 anymore, Heller. I’ve also had managers that thought every time the phone rang, it just had to be Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos calling to give the company billions of dollars in job orders. And you know what it never was. Most of the time it would be people calling in wanting a status update. So it could be like a job seeker candidate. Hey, you found anything for me yet? Hey, is there anything new going on? You got anything you can pitch to me? Hey, my boss was really a jerk today, I’d kind of like to get out of here. Or it’d be Robodials and telemarketers. But it was never, not one single time, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates calling to give the company billions of dollars in job orders. So just be really, really careful with a company culture or a sales manager that’s trying to shove 1980s and 1990s metrics and sales tactics down your throat, it’s not going to lead to anything good. Something else that I want to say before I continue reading from this article is, there’s also this new zoom tool that will tattle on you. If you’re late to a meeting, it will tattle on you if you skip the meeting. So we’re getting into, I think, an era where it’s becoming more obvious, or at least my God, it ought to be obvious by now that these digital pan Opticon tools are snitches. They are snitching on you stay woke. Don’t ever assume if you have a company laptop in your possession, that your keystrokes and everything that you’re doing is not being observed. Because I’d be willing to bet money it is. And definitely, you know, don’t don’t do anything in front of the camera, like undressing or anything like that, that you wouldn’t want somebody to see because the odds are pretty good that they are surveilling you. They are filming Big Brother is watching. And again, in my opinion, like Dennis Miller always said, it’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. In my opinion, if you need that kind of surveillance, if you need a tool to tell you that Sally Sue was five minutes late to the Zoom meeting, or Bill logged out five minutes early. Tammy had some Wi Fi troubles and had to bug out for a little while and missed five seconds of dialogue like Get over yourself. It’s not like you’re on a Zoom meeting dropping out nectar from the gods like calm down the ego a little bit here. Alright, I’ll continue to read now from the New York Post article. As you can tell these topics get me riled up because I just hate the culture of surveillance. And I hate how corporate America can take something as wonderful as the bliss of working from home and having your freedom and try to transmogrify that into something really ugly and despicable. I’ll read. Office managers were once reportedly criticized for failing to keep the mini fridge stocked with Fiji and Perrier, water according to Forbes. Why do we have biscotti here like this? He meaning guard once demanded from office managers. In another email obtained by Forbes last year guard wrote you are too damn slow. You are a bunch of dumb dumb orphans and dumb dolphins get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. So stop it. Stop it. Stop it right now. You are embarrassing me. At the same time. The Daily Beast reported earlier this year that one of his deputies Elena Knoller was given huge stock options that vested immediately $8,000 per month for two homes and other perks. Despite the favorable treatment, Knoller was eventually placed on administrative leave for bullying. better.com became a pandemic darling as city dwellers sought to flee to greener and larger spaces in the suburbs feeling a boom in the housing market and associated lenders, the company announced in May that it plans to go public through an SPAC or special purpose acquisition company as 7.7 billion valuation, end quote. Holy shit, Batman. Dumb dolphins, you are too damn slow. You are a bunch of dumb dolphins Stop it. You’re embarrassing me? What? I mean? Mm hmm. Yeah, there’s part of me that’s like, I wish I wish you would I wish you would send me an email like that and see what kind of response you got back from me? Because I would show you who the dumb dolphin is. And it sure as hell would not be more. But who who talks to their employees that way? Or who talks about their employees that way? I mean, you know, and then your your right hand person gets put on administrative leave for bullying. What will I want? It’s rare that I am completely and utterly speechless. But I’m still trying to digest all of that, firing people by zoom, and talking about how they stole from the company and they were rip off artists. But then you’re also calling them dumb dolphins and you’re worrying about the Scotties. And what kind of water there is in the fridge. I mean, the the the level of misplaced priorities in all of that is staggering, just staggering. Ah, even though there’s a lot to unpack here, there are several things that I want to say. First and foremost is we have got to get away from this mob mentality of the company is your family. You cannot leave the family, you cannot decide against the family. You need to go along with groupthink and do what’s always best for the family. No, no and no, the company is most decidedly not your family. The corporation is a business, it’s an entity, it does not have a heart and a soul. Like a human being your boss is not the same as your mom or your dad, I guess unless you really are in a family business. And literally your boss is your mom. For most of us, your boss is not your parent, your co workers are not your siblings. It is not a family, we’ve got to get away from this warped out mentality that it is. Second thing I want to say is loyalty is a two way street. There are companies out there that will fire you or lay you off for any reason or no reason at all. Yet. They expect undying loyalty and devotion from you. Well, I’m sorry, but it just shouldn’t work that way, there should be a mutually agreed upon circumstance of I will do this for you. And in return, you do this for me. Now, maybe you’re 1099. I personally only will work 1099 independent contractor, it makes my life much simpler. And there’s an agreed upon term of this is what we’re going to do. But at any point in time. If this becomes untenable, then we just won’t do it anymore. And as more people turn to freelancing careers that may become the norm. But if you’re a full time W2 employee, you shouldn’t be subjected to abuse and bullying just because of that. I mean, how insane number three, as much as you possibly can do your research, look for any red flags or signs of trouble before you start working at a company. Now granted, some places are very good at hiding their crazy. They’re not going to roll out the red carpet, so to speak, and, and then show you all of the skeletons in their closet. They’re going to make everything seem very sugar coated. So in some circumstances, it’s going to be very difficult to find out the truth. But again, as much research as you can do, try to figure out what you’re really saddling up for. The other thing is pay attention to your own gut instincts your own spidey senses, if they’re using cult speak, or they’re talking like they’re, they think they’re the mafia. Those are very important red flags that you should not ignore or neglect. Now obviously I’ll be talking about that in more detail when I record my episode about the firm and the devil’s advocate and this like extreme. You must be one of us. Here’s what the firm will allow you to do. Here’s what the firm will not allow you to do. And obviously, if you get into those situations, we’re all one big family here. We all work in unison. We all do things exactly the same way. No one ever leaves us. Number four, no one gives a shit about your biscotti and your Perrier water, if they’re being treated like total dog crap on the job. All of these suppose it perks you know, I rag on free soda pops in the fridge and foosball tables in the break room. Because I have heard companies try to ply candidates with that kind of crap. Well, we’ve got a PlayStation in the break room, and we’ve got a pool table and you can have all the soda pop you want. And we do more margaritas Friday at 4pm. And oh, it’s so much fun. Now we’re gonna pay you 30% below market value, but look at how much fun we’re having. Like, I’m sorry, but I think people are getting way savvier. And they know that they can’t pay their bills with a margarita machine and a foosball table, man, they just are not going to care about your sparkling water and your treats if you’re treating them like crap. The fifth and final thing that I will say about this is whether you are freelancing, you own your own business, or you are a W two employee and you’re working as an employee within a company, you’re going to have to decide for yourself what level of surveillance you’re willing to tolerate. What are you willing to put up with? I mean, the old saying is true. No one rules if no one obeys. One question that I have in this whole nasty mess, is in his little diatribe on Blind. He said, You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of two hours a day while clocking eight hours plus a day in the payroll system, question mark. And it’s like, okay, I’m not naive. I am fully aware that that kind of thing goes on. People can get bored, they get restless, they don’t like the job itself. They get tired of the metrics, they get tired of their boss, or maybe they are just lazy in general, who knows? They may very well be working two hours a day. But saying that they worked a full eight hour day when really they spent the rest of the time taking cat naps and watching Netflix, you know, do those people exist in society? Well, hell yes, they do. Of course they do. But why Lay off 900? You know, if you felt like that about 250, give or take were the real offenders who were claiming to work when they weren’t actually working for the full day, then what was going on with the other people that got terminated or laid off on that phone call? There’s just something about all of this, that’s not passing the sniff test for me. So speaking to you, as someone who could be freelancing or working at a job, you have to decide how much surveillance you’re willing to put up with? Because How would he know? I mean, let’s think about this. How would he or anybody else at the company claim to know, I’m not going to say that he actually knew, let’s just say, How could he claim to know that? Unless there was surveillance? Dramatic Pause here, just so you can chew that over? In your own mind? How would he know? Well, let’s think about this. If you’ve got software that logs keystrokes, and take screenshots every 10 seconds, and then you’ve also have have some kind of software that’s monitoring how often the phone got picked up, how much phone time there was, how many inbound calls, how many outbound calls, maybe you’re even taping them, you know, in a lot of places that still not legal, but maybe you’re taping them, and you’re determining how much time was spent on the phone. And what was said, I mean, to me, I just find that creepy. And having come from those environments where they made such a big deal about the phone. I don’t hear anybody’s phone ringing. I don’t see any phones lit up too many of y’all sitting there picking on them keyboards not not operating that phone. And it’s like, oh, so look, I already have a bias against those types of environments. Because I’ve been there and I’ve done that, and I know that it sucks. You’re going to have to decide for yourselves how much surveillance you’re willing to put up with? Do you want somebody screenshotting you every 10 seconds? Do you want them to know when you got up to go to the bathroom? Or when you had a headache and you’re like, God, I cannot stare at this screen anymore. I need to take like a 10 minute coffee break or I need to, you know, take a pain pill or migraine pill and wait to get over this so I can work again. Do you want them knowing all that? I mean, I don’t feel like that’s anybody’s business but my own. Decide for yourself what you’re willing to put up with. And don’t ever assume if you are plugged in at a company and you have any of their property in your home, whether it’s a cell phone, a laptop, a tablet, whatever it is, no matter how even if it’s a thumb drive, no matter how innocuous the device might seem to be for the love of God. Don’t ever assume that it could not be used to surveil you because more than likely it probably is. And look, I have compassion on the other side of this argument too. You know, if you’re if your boss is more concerned about what kind of water is in the refrigerator, and you’re being called a dumb dolphin, how motivated are you to work for that company anyway? I mean, I would feel horrible if somebody walked in and said that to me. Now, I would clap back. I’m older and saltier than I used to be. And I just be like, oh, hell, no, I know, you did not come up in here and say that to me, I know you didn’t. I know the hell you did not just speak to me that way. But you take somebody that’s working, and they’ve got they’ve got bills to pay and their W2. And they, they maybe don’t see another option there if they feel trapped. And we are how motivated are you going to be by abusive language? Again, I’ll get into this more when I record my episode about the firm and the mob mentality within companies. But the meantime, to wrap up this episode, the main thing that I want to impart to you is your career is in your hands, your life is in your hands, you are the one that has to decide the way that you want to spend the next 1020 3040 50 years of your career. Do you want to be someplace where you’re treated with respect, you’re really making your own rules and demanding that your clients adhere to your rules of engagement. Nobody’s abusing anybody else. No one’s taking advantage of anybody else, you know, or do you want to be rounded up on a massive zoom call and told him I really hate to do this, but I’m gonna have to give you all the boot. decide for yourselves, what you’re willing to tolerate, and what you’re not. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you haven’t already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.

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