No matter how or when you lay off employees, the workers are going to be, understandably, upset.
While it’s not an easy thing to do, there are definitely ways you should never conduct layoffs — and one CEO is making headlines for his big “blunder.”
CEO of Better.com, Vishal Garg, recently laid off 900 people at his company — nearly 10% of his workforce. But it was how he broke that news that got everyone riled up.
Garg invited the soon-to-be-laid-off employees to a Zoom meeting where he informed them they all lost their jobs, effective immediately. He added that he hated firing people, and would try not to cry. Someone recorded a video of the Zoom call, which quickly hit social media, and the backlash was fierce.
People criticized both the “crass” nature of a mass virtual layoff, as well as doing it so close to the holidays. Garg later issued an apology, calling it a “blunder.” He added, “I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected.”
What not to do
There are many places Garg went wrong here, and employers can learn from his example of what not to do. Here’s what HR expert Suzanne Lucas says we can take away from this cautionary tale.
- No mass notifications. The more people included in the layoff announcement, the more impersonal and cold the decision will feel. Instead of having the head of the company lay off everyone, have the employees’ managers deliver the news. Sometimes group announcements do make sense, but every single person being laid off shouldn’t be informed at once.
- Inform in person if possible. Terminations and layoffs should always be done in person — it makes it more human. Sometimes that’s not possible with remote workers. In that case, Zoom may be necessary. But, again — use small groups or do it individually. How did Garg know all 900 people were at the Zoom meeting? What if someone called out sick? With a virtual group that large, it’s impossible to keep track of who all you’re speaking to.
- Don’t make it about you. Garg mentioned how upset he was, which was the wrong thing to say. No matter how torn up you are about the decision, your laid-off employees will always get the worse end of this deal.
- Don’t do layoffs in December. It always comes off as cruel to fire people right before the holidays. Consider December out of the running when it comes to layoffs.