24 Jan “Gentlemen’s layoffs” 🤮
Going all the way back to Saturday Broadcast 6, which I published on July 9, 2022: TOLD YA! Long before Fortune and Yahoo were warning you, I called this one. From that episode:
If you go over to the New York Post, you will find “Mark Zuckerberg: We’re Turning Up the Heat at Meta so Employees Will Quit.” Yikes. Allow me to read a few paragraphs now:
Facebook parent Meta wants to cut ties with workers who can’t meet newly raised performance expectations as the company prepares for an economic downturn, CEO Mark Zuckerberg bluntly revealed this week. Zuckerberg’s frank admission came during a Q&A session with employees in which he warned that a recent slump in the markets ‘might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.’ ‘Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,’ Zuckerberg said during the meeting, according to Reuters. ‘Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me,’ Zuckerberg added. Zuckerberg indicated that Meta plans to slow its hiring plans for engineers by at least 30% this year – adding roughly 6,000 or 7,000 workers rather than the 10,000 it initially expected to hire. Some roles that are currently empty will stay unfilled as Meta dials up pressure on current employees.
Yeah, so in my opinion, this is definitely not a good sign. And in fact, it may be an omen of other things yet to come not only in the tech sector, but potentially in other markets as well. Standard boilerplate goes here: I am not an economist, I don’t sit on the World Economic Forum, and I’m not a power broker. I’m also not a professional financial planner or advisor. The comments that I make in any of these episodes, including this one, are not to be construed as advice of any kind. I’m just giving you my opinion–a private individual, giving you her opinion– for your entertainment purposes only. From an HR and staffing perspective, sometimes companies will do this for a number of reasons. As I’ve told you before, these companies don’t answer to us. They don’t answer to the random person out on the street; they answer to people like shareholders, investors and a board of directors, but they don’t answer to me and you, of course they don’t. And they’re in business to make money. So in spite of whatever veneer they might put on, especially on social media or through their marketing department about how big of a heart they have and how much they care. Now, they care about the profits and they care about the bottom line. I’m sorry about you if that hurts your feelings, but I’m trying to tell you the way that the world actually works. And here we have it staring us back in the face. ‘Hey, if you decide that this place is not for you, then that’s okay with me, you can hit the bricks, pal, and I won’t feel sad about it.’ Companies will do this. Sometimes if they don’t want to have a mass firing or a mass layoff because they think it would look bad for optics or the investors and the shareholders have already told them, ‘We don’t need bad publicity of having a mass firing. If we need to cull the herd, then we need to do it kind of quietly and surreptitiously, as opposed to getting a bunch of bad PR out in the media.’ Sometimes companies will also do this sort of thing because they don’t want to be on the hook for benefits. Sometimes when you terminate an employee or you lay them off, you’re on the hook depending on the laws in the state, depending on the kind of contract that was signed between employee and employer, that company might owe some kind of severance pay, they may have to cover benefits for a certain period of time or make Cobra available to the employee so that they can continue on with their benefits for a period of time. Whereas if somebody just says, ‘Take this job and shove it!’ and they walk out on their own, it’s really a different ballgame. And some companies will also do it if they feel like they don’t want to open themselves up for the liability of a wrongful termination lawsuit. ‘Well, if you leave on your own, if we raise the standards, and you decide that you’re just not up for the challenge, and you leave on your own, well, sorry, we’ll see you some other time. And that’ll be that and we’ll part ways.’ I hate to be pulling the curtain back and being the bearer of bad news, but this is reality. Now just to be clear, I’m gonna do some CYA here: I’m not saying that that’s what Facebook or Meta is doing. I’m just telling you that some companies in this world choose to behave in that way, and you will see it in sales and marketing departments as well. You ever heard of the PIP– the performance improvement plan? A lot of times that comes out when somebody either legitimately is not trying, they’re just showing up, they’re not trying to produce anything, or some person is struggling and the manager really wants to get rid of them without having a big foofaraw about it. So you get pulled to the side and put on a PIP. You’re either going to meet these absurdly high sales goals or there’s the door. And then after the period of time passes, whether it’s a 30 day plan, 60 day or 90 day, you get pulled into a conference room and told, ‘Hey, listen, I’m really sorry. You know, we tried to work with you by giving you a goal that not even Jesus Himself could meet, and you just didn’t do it. So we’re gonna have to let you go. But no hard feelings, right?’ These things happen. And one of the things that concerns me about Meta being on major news outlets for this, ‘Hey, then there’s the door if you want to use it,’ other companies may follow suit. I hope that I am wrong on that. I really do. But it concerns me that it could be opening the door wider for other companies to do the same thing. And I feel that way about Elon Musk and Tesla as well. ‘Hey, you go pretend to work somewhere else. If you think work from home is so fabulous, that’s fine, but you’re gonna have to go do it somewhere else.’ Well, that kicked the door open even before official stirrings of recession or official stirrings of 1970 stagflation were out there. I mean, anybody who’s awake with some brain cells already knew that crap was going on. But my point is: he kicked the door open wider of like, ‘Yeah, pretend to work somewhere else! Work From Home Revolution is over with, guys. It’s time to come on back.’ Well, now we’re here with Meta: ‘We’ve raised our standards, we’re hoping that some employees will just find their way out the door, and so that’ll be that and everybody’s problem will be solved.’ It’s not going to solve your problem if you’re the one that’s having to figure out how you’re going to make rent, how you’re going to pay the bills, how you’re going to keep the car in the driveway, how you’re gonna keep your babies fed. So these are things to think about– not to get paranoid and hyper vigilant– but it’s some food for thought, in my opinion.
Only just now are you allowed to know from a mainstream outlet that everything I said was spot-on.
“Using attrition instead of layoffs and firings has become a trend in recent months. Video game publisher Ubisoft recently announced it would use what it called ‘usual natural attrition’ to cut its headcount as a part of its $216 million restructuring plan and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told Bloomberg this week his firm isn’t planning to cut jobs, instead opting for right-sizing using ‘the natural ebb and flow that you drive through attrition.’
Corporations’ decision to lean into attrition could be considered an example of ‘quiet firing’—one of the many new terms to describe the labor market’s swings.
The idea is that when managers don’t provide enough career development opportunities and support for employees, they eventually leave the company. And in some scenarios, ‘quiet firing’ can take a darker turn, when employers actively attempt to squeeze employees out by making their lives difficult at work or enacting return to office mandates.
Text messages between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis that were revealed as a part of Musk’s court battle over his $44 billion Twitter acquisition last year show how business leaders can cut costs without announcing layoffs.
‘2 day a week office requirement = 20% voluntary departures,’ Calacanis wrote to Musk, calling the tactic a form of “gentlemen’s layoffs.”'” -from Yahoo
Gentlemen’s layoffs? Quiet firing? 🤮🤮
Make no mistake: this is what I told you to expect. The silly nomenclature is irrelevant.
“Eight times each year the Federal Reserve publishes a report called the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions—better known as the Beige Book—that details anecdotal evidence about the health of the U.S. economy from business leaders, economists, market experts, and other sources across the country.
The latest Beige Book, released this month, contained some interesting tidbits that back up what many business leaders, including the likes of Elon Musk, have already implied: they’re hoping you quit. Firing employees is expensive and bad for brand reputation. Why pay severance packages and announce layoffs to the media when you can just wait for your workers to quit on their own? Plus, a 2016 study found that after layoffs, remaining employees experience ‘survivor syndrome’—which reduces performance, increases stress, and decreases commitment to the employer.” -Yahoo
Keep your head on a swivel. IMO, the corporate shenanigans and bad maneuvering are only beginning. This is but the tip of the iceberg.