Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Might have some bad news
Then again, might not! Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Bad news at Facebook. The company is apparently laying off another 11,000 people.
Not that they've all been informed of their futures. Instead, at least a significant portion of them are just like you and me: reading about the company's plans, and left to wonder what their fates will be.
I don't think this is optimal, or necessary.
A month and a half ago, Google announced big layoffs: 12,000 people. But allow me to quote from the email CEO Sundar Pichai sent to all employees:
I have some difficult news to share. We've decided to reduce our workforce by approximately 12,000 roles. We've already sent a separate email to employees in the U.S. who are affected.
What word jumps out? "Already."
In theory, no Google employee reading this email in the U.S. should have had to endure a waiting game to find out if their job was affected. I think that's an important, humane detail.
And just to show how unusual this is at big companies, let's compare what we've seen at some other tech and media companies recently:
Microsoft "Today, we are making changes that will result in the reduction of our overall workforce by 10,000 jobs through the end of FY23 Q3. This represents less than 5 percent of our total employee base, with some notifications happening today." So, maybe you're losing your job today. Maybe it will be in October! Who knows?
The Washington Post. In December, publisher Fred Ryan held an all-hands meeting in which he said there would be a "single-digit percentage" reduction in the company's 2,500-member workforce—but that employees would have to wait until the new year to find out if they were affected. The Post's own story about the meeting said Ryan then "walked out of the meeting after dozens of employees raised their hands and peppered him with questions." Ouch.
Amazon. CEO Andy Jassy announced 18,000 job cuts on January 4. "We typically wait to communicate about these outcomes until we can speak with the people who are directly impacted. However, because one of our teammates leaked this information externally, we decided it was better to share this news earlier...." It goes on to say official announcements to affected employees would begin two weeks later.
Salesforce. Marc Benioff's message to employees started with some chest-thumping about the company, which employees who are about to lose their jobs probably didn't really want to wade through. But he followed with: "Within the next hour, employees who are initially affected by this decision will receive an email letting them know." I suppose that's just enough time to pour a cup of coffee (or something stronger) and sweat it out.
Stripe. Honestly, these guys are my Layoff Patient Zero. Last November, this layoff notice really stood out for its humanity, in that the second sentence of CEO Patrick Collison's email read: "If you are among those impacted, you will receive a notification email within the next 15 minutes." Honestly, reading the rest of his nice-given-the-circumstances message almost takes that long.
It’s worth noting that in some cases, the ultimate job cuts weren’t that deep. The Post for example wound up laying off a total of 20 people—which is terrible for them of course, but it also makes me wonder why make the rest of the company fear for their jobs for a month first?.
I don't think this is a complicated lesson. The last thing most employees want is to lose their jobs.
But, the second-to-last thing they want is to get generic bad news, and then have to wait to learn whether their number has been called or not.
Letting them know within 15 minutes or an hour is good. Letting them know before the general announcement is probably better.
Yes, sometimes there are other circumstances. Maybe you can't manage all the moving parts quickly enough. Sometimes, as apparently happened at Amazon, news leaks first. And if you have employees in other countries, they may have different layoff rules.
All else being equal, though, bad news rarely gets better with age.
7 other things worth knowing today
Lots of news media picked up on a comment from Pope Francis (in response to a question) recently, when he said that the requirement for Catholic priests to be celibate was "temporary ... It is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever whether you like it or not. On the other hand, celibacy is a discipline." (Fox News, CruxNow)
A man in Vancouver, Canada was somehow able to get into someone else’s Tesla Model 3 and drive off with it only by using the Tesla app in his own phone. Rajesh Randev told Global News he thought he was getting into his own Tesla since the car he took was the same color as his. (He was in a hurry and had to pick up his kids from school, so he unlocked the wrong Tesla and drove off.) (Jalopnik)
In August 2022, Andrew Tate was Googled more often than Trump, Kim Kardashian, and the queen of England combined. By the end of 2022, #AndrewTate had been searched on TikTok 22 billion times. How a misogynistic influencer, now sitting in a Romanian jail with his brother while that country's police investigate them for suspicion of organized crime, human trafficking, and rape (they deny it), became a massive influence on boys and young men. (New York)
A Russian fighter jet has collided with a US ‘Reaper’ drone in international airspace over the Black Sea. The US military said that ‘several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner.' (Metro)
A California appeals court has ruled that "gig" economy giants including Uber and Lyft can continue treating their workers as independent contractors in the state of California. Labor groups and some workers had opposed the measure, saying it robbed them of rights like sick leave. (BBC)
A new monument honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday, replacing a long-standing statue of Christopher Columbus. The 25-foot-tall monument includes a mosaic of tiles and a circular learning wall inscribed with stories of Tubman's life and the history of Newark's Black liberation movement. (NPR)
C is for Crypto! Sesame Workshop is introducing the first digital collectibles based on the iconic Sesame Street kids' brand. The first NFTs from the initiative will feature Cookie Monster, the beloved blue cookie fiend from the show, with the initial drop scheduled for March 19 on the VeVe digital collectibles app. (Variety)