Then came the mass Zoom call. Carvana stopped more than one to inform workers of layoffs.
“It’s like, ‘You’re fired. Here’s your severance package. Good day,'” Tracy told Protocol. “There must be a little element of man, to make them feel bad about it.»
A spokesman for Carvana on Protocol said earlier this week that the company had “as many conversations as possible in person” and less than half of the 2,500 layoffs were announced by Zoom. But Tracy still felt “horrible” about being evicted in a mass Zoom call, a sentiment some Twitter colleagues added.
Layoffs are always difficult, and the era of remote and hybrid working brings even more challenges when workforce cuts are announced. As the market turns and more tech companies announce cuts, it’s worth considering whether the massive layoff of employees at Zoom-a tactic used by Better.com and TripActions before Carvana-is acceptable- still acceptable.
Are Zoom layoffs acceptable?
TripActions made headlines in 2020 for its consecutive layoffs, even as company spokeswoman Kelly Soderlund pointed out that the cuts came at the start of the pandemic, when offices were empty and the cut off unspecified territory.
“Essentially we were the first and we got the press hit about it, which was good,” Soderlund said. “But the layoffs we were forced to do in 2020 are very different from the layoffs that companies are doing today.»
Now companies have more choice – and more advance – when it comes to how they handle large cuts.
Betsy Leatherman, global president of Consulting Services for Leadership Circle, an executive coaching and assessment firm, said she would avoid Zoom’s massive layoff at all costs. Instead, Leatherman said managers should tell employees directly.
“It’s going to be an hour and a half or two hours of excitement,” Leatherman said. “But I bet you can do that. »
Even firing employees in groups of five or 10 is better than saying ten or hundreds at a time, Leatherman says.
A former Better.com executive who spoke to Protocol on the condition of anonymity agreed that a massive layoff from Zoom was never the right way.
“It is barbaric. It was inhumane, “the former executive said of the layoffs at Better.” I was told this in a mass video call and then it suddenly spread like wildfire – I don’t think that’s the right way to do it. Not right away Better.com responded to a request for comment.
But not everyone agrees that Zoom deletes are necessarily a wrong move.
Sandra Sucher, a Harvard Business School professor who wrote “The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Gain It,” said it might be acceptable to announce a layoff in an e-mass email or in a large Zoom call. This is an important opportunity for the CEO or other business leader to apologize for the layoff, explain why it happened, and hold accountable the decisions that led to it.
When companies go this route, employees should talk directly with their managers, Sucher says.
“It gives people the opportunity to connect with who they know best – even in a remote work environment – and hear the news on a personal basis,” Sucher said. “It also gives people a chance to ask questions. »
Carvana did nothing, according to Tracy.
“If I talk to someone for at least 10 minutes, it’s just to get a little bit of clarity,” Tracy said. “We were not even told why we were fired, really. It’s a ‘restructure’, but that clearly means they take on too many people. »
Conservative hiring was one of the lessons Khaled Hussein learned when he laid off nearly half of his employees at Tilt, the fintech company he sold to Airbnb in 2017. Tilt easily raised money-at one point has reached $ 400 million-and its executives are “drinking Kool-Aid” getting faster than the company is growing, Hussein said.
This type of overhiring has been a common story of the past two years. Many businesses have discovered that the huge spike in growth during a pandemic leaves them with little room to run.
When job cuts are inevitable, Hussein – now co -founder and CEO of recruitment start -up Betterleap – said it’s crucial for leaders to make themselves available to their employees.
“In times like this, every CEO wants to hide. It hurts. And that’s when you have to do the exact opposite: you have to be available,” Hussein said. You have to have the questions and answers, you have to be there, you have to answer all the questions. »
Open lines of communication if possible
In Carvana’s case, the Zoom chat feature was disabled and employees had no way to ask questions, Tracy said.
“We might be open to questions in the end,” Tracy said. “I felt very transactional. »
Even without an open Zoom chat, Carvana could have offered employees another way to submit questions, such as a Google form, Hussein said. Blocking communication is “painful,” Hussein said.
“I emotionally understand what they want to do, that they want to avoid pain,” Hussein said. “But the best way is just to go through here.»
Human leaders are key to successfully managing these processes. The former Better.com executive said the company should be involved with HR, or at least outside help, “in every aspect”. But the company doesn’t have much of an HR team, the executive said.
How much is the notice?
Sucher recommends giving employees notice of layoffs instead of firing them right away. Some companies he studied gave up to six months or a year notice, but that was in a particularly stable business environment, he said.
Giving advance notice is not uncommon, but Sucher calls it a “clear best practice” because it allows employees to prepare.
“The idea that you should notice people is both humane, respectful and a responsible way to deal,” Sucher said.
Leatherman is more supportive of layoffs in the area. Finance -driven job cuts should happen soon, he said, while layoffs for other reasons – the closure of a product line or the sale of part of companies, for example – may be eligible. -should take more notice, as they give employees time to move to a different group.
But in cases where employees leave the company, news of a layoff can damage morale and weaken employees, Leatherman said. .Com’s better performance was allegedly hurt by the moral blow it inflicted on the series of layoffs. In these situations, it may make sense to end relationships early.
“Even really, really, hard -working, efficient, motivated employees can change,” Leatherman said. “You don’t want to tarnish the culture before they leave. »
What about severance pay?
Tracy received four weeks of severance pay from Carvana, which she said was fair, although she was concerned about her co-workers supporting families. He also worries about when he will get his severance pay, as Carvana will not provide it until employees return their belongings. Tracy has not yet received her shipping box, he said.
“They’re notorious for not sending out the boxes on time, so the money is going to be delayed for me,” Tracy said, noting that she had to delay her start date by a week because Carvana was late to send their equipment. “And financially, I kind of need the money now. »
Late or short severance packages can certainly put salt in the wound for workers affected by layoffs. A high-profile example occurred at Better.com, where laid-off employees accused the company of failing to pay their severance package.
If financially feasible, Hussein recommends letting laid -off employees keep their computers, which will help them find other work.
” Most of all [in] low -paying jobs, that laptop means more to that person than the company as an asset, “Hussein says.” It brings us back to the underlying principle of compassion. »
This story was updated on May 13 to include a statement from TripActions and to clarify the circumstances of the Carvana dismissal.