Is Elon Musk rewriting the HR rulebook at Twitter?
A week after his $44-billion acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk kicked-off mass layoffs at the social media giant on Friday. Sources told Business Standard that the majority of people at Twitter India have been laid-off. Employees from segments like policy, communication and engineering and development have been affected.
Media reports said Musk plans to cut around 3,700 jobs, or about half the Twitter workforce, in a bid to slash costs. Earlier, Musk had directed Twitter’s teams to find up to $1 billion in annual infrastructure cost savings by slashing funding for servers and cloud services.
In an email on Thursday night, Twitter told employees that they would be informed about their job status by Friday morning.
“If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please return home,” Twitter said in the unsigned email.
The company temporarily closed its offices and suspended all badge access.
On Friday, some employees tweeted their access to the company’s IT system had been blocked and feared whether that suggested they had been laid off. The language in Twitter’s communication was criticised for being brash for a subject that many said should have been treated with more sensitivity.
The email said the staff cuts were designed to put Twitter on a “healthy path”. Many employees who were laid off took to Twitter to share messages of support with each other by tweeting blue heart emojis and salute emojis.
Using the hashtags and #LoveWhereYouWork employees let others know they had been laid off. This included multiple Twitter India employees.
Some employees have already filed a class-action lawsuit against the San Francisco-headquartered company for conducting mass layoff without providing the required 60-day advance notice, in violation of US federal and California law.
This is not the first time Musk has faced staff ire.
In June, a group of employees at his rocket company SpaceX criticsed Musk in an open letter and called on executives at the start-up to make the company’s work culture more inclusive.
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter read, without singling out any controversy in particular.
Days later, SpaceX reportedly fired at least five employees who helped draft the letter. Musk has been known to take decisions unpopular with employees.
On May 31st, he sent a similar email to employees at both SpaceX and Tesla declaring that “remote work is no longer acceptable”. He asked employees to return to the office or leave the companies, adding they are required to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office.
He said that manufacturing great and exciting products does not happen by “phoning it in”.
At the time, major tech firms in Silicon Valley did not require workers to return to the office full-time, amid resistance from some workers and a resurgence of coronavirus cases in California.
Musk now reportedly wants to revoke employees’ right to work remotely at Twitter.
But how should one judge the world’s richest man? Kamal Karanth, the co-founder of specialist staffing firm Xpheno tells more
Speaking to Business Standard, Kamal Karanth, Co-founder, Xpheno says, there is a certain template that leaders should follow. Some may want to work with Musk for his products. We’ll judge his current actions based on how Twitter progresses, he says.
A lot of the actions taken by Elon Musk aren’t entirely new. Takeovers in the past have also been followed by layoffs. The public nature of Twitter, the media glare surrounding and Musk’s own celebrity have brought the developments at Twitter in for particularly detailed scrutiny. However, it is unlikely to set a new standard in how companies hire and fire their employees insofar as anyone replicating the particular methods employed by Musk at Twitter.
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