Big tech is really bad at firing people

11 months ago
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“I personally find it embarrassing to explain to friends and family why I’m being fired,” says one former Meta employee who was fired as part of layoffs in late 2022 and asked not to be identified so as not to jeopardize her future job. perspectives.

But not only the suddenness, but also the inhumane way in which the announcements were made, irritates the laid-off employees. When it finally arrived, the email telling Bowling he was being fired from Google was “legitimate” and was signed by the company’s vice president without any kind of greeting.

“No, sincerely, I’m not sorry, nothing,” he says. “It was written by a lawyer, so there was no hint of guilt or anything like that. It was so cold. Everything about him was so cold.”

According to Bowling, the company has historically treated employees quite well, even when they quit. “This layoff was so different from the culture of people leaving the company,” he says.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

But for Susan Schurman, professor of labor studies and industrial relations at Rutgers University, the gap between how tech companies portray themselves and how they operate has always existed.

“It would be fair to say that I am shocked, but not surprised,” Schurman says. “I’m old enough to grow up in a so-called 20th century organization where, you could say, workers are seen as expendable.”

According to Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Manchester Business School, attitudes towards staff have also worsened during the pandemic. Remote work has led to a greater separation between managers and their employees. “There was less face-to-face contact, and much more of their communication was virtual,” he says. “This can create a situation where you won’t develop close relationships with your employees if you’re a line manager.”

Some tech workers say they’ve already realized that tech companies won’t necessarily return their loyalty.

“Honestly, a couple of years ago, I started to change the way I think about the companies I work for,” says Alejandra Hernandez, recruitment program manager at Meta, who was fired in November after a year at the company. “I look at it like this: “This is a business, you hired me to do a certain job.” her thinking.

Hernandez wasn’t too upset that she and her colleagues were fired by email. “I would rather be emailed than have someone try to grease me up with a Zoom call to let me go,” she said.

Even for those who have experienced layoffs, the past few months have served as a poignant reminder that their well-being is never more important than the fiduciary responsibilities of leaders, and that when times get tough, they are vulnerable.

“We’ve all been misled into thinking these tech companies are treating people like human beings,” Schurman says. “But I think we figured out that it was only possible at the time, and as soon as times get tough, boom: the boss is back.”

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