Employees from Google, Meta and Twitter reveal the brutal and harsh ways they were fired.

For one Google worker, it happened when the light on the card reader outside the New York office turned red instead of green.
For a Twitter employee, on the other hand, it was when his password was changed remotely and an unusual grey screen showed that his work Macbook was locked.
For Zack Bowling, a nearly eight-year veteran at Google, the firing represented an exit from all his devices.

In the past few months, tech companies have laid off tens of thousands of workers across the industry, which executives blame on overhiring during the pandemic. Almost without exception, companies have not handled their task particularly well, with casual brutality and tone-deaf displays – such as at Microsoft, which staged a private Sting concert in Davos the night before it fired 10,000 people. This is what Wired has to say on the subject.

“Finding out via email or auto-shutdown that you’ve lost your job is cruel – and it shouldn’t be. It’s also completely at odds with what many of these organizations are saying about how much they value their people.”

says Gemma Dale, a lecturer at Liverpool Business School and author of a number of books, including on employee wellbeing and flexible working in the field.

People who still work at the company aren’t sure if they’re next. Bowling says that workers who still have access to the company’s systems have told him that 8,000 names have disappeared from employee lists. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said it was laying off 12,000 people worldwide.

At Salesforce, 8,000 employees were laid off in January, but co-CEO Mark Benioff reportedly ducked out of questions at an all-employee meeting where the layoffs were to be addressed. At some companies – particularly Twitter, where Elon Musk has laid off entire teams as part of a 50 percent reduction in headcount – the layoffs appear arbitrary.

According to Carrie Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Manchester University’s business school, attitudes towards staff have also deteriorated during the pandemic. Remote working has led to a greater divide between managers and their employees.

“There was less face-to-face contact and a lot more of their communications were virtual. This can create a situation where you don’t develop close relationships with your employees if you’re a direct supervisor.”

He says.

Even for those who have survived the cuts, the past few months have been a stark reminder that their well-being will never be more important than the fiduciary duties of managers, and that when times get tough, their positions are vulnerable.


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