Twitter made headlines for the mismanagement of its workplace after billionaire Elon Musk took over and fired hundreds of employees only to recall later. This behaviour at a workplace can be considered unconducive for the company and its employees.
Amit Vasistha, Founder and CEO of GALF, a corporate wellness aggregator, calls Musk’s layoff spree a hasty decision. “Elon Musk re-hiring the employees, that his company so viciously sacked, shows him as an inconsiderate employer. To see their loyalty and hard work ‘rewarded’ with a coldly typed-out mass email will be as demotivating as it was disrespectful.”
The suspended or terminated and the survivors of the chaos will face grave emotional consequences.
Sridhar Laxman, Executive Coach, Lucid Minds Coaching, says communication is the lifeline of any organisation. “There is a mental and emotional pain that comes with layoffs. In this instance, the communication strategy failed the employees and the ecosystem poorly,” Laxman says.
Laying off people is always a challenge. It is where leadership empathy and compassion can make an impact to make things less painful. Harsh Kapur-Pillai, Director, Terragni Consulting, says the decision to hire, retain or fire is based on ‘the company culture, business model, customer, market, and employee contexts’. “Flip-flop decisions on this subject require courage and humility in the founder, an attractive brand proposition with superior work content as the key ingredient. Where financial performance is a key, cultural tenet and the leader is a strong believer in either of the maxims ‘people are forgiving or have short memories if the result is acceptable to most’.”
Thus arises a need for people-centric culture, being sensitive to the process and its outcome. The leader needs to believe that the people will be assets, competitive differentiators, and the path to sustainable growth in business.
Anil Agarwal, CEO & Co-Founder of InCruiter, an IaaS firm, says Musk’s blunder would leave an impact on the minds of the retained employees and affect productivity. “The remaining workforce must be feeling insecure, which results in a lack of coordination and reduced productivity.”
The correct way
There has to be a right way to handle staff and any firing (mass or otherwise). “There are two factors to be taken into consideration. First, firms need a device a strategy to protect the respect and dignity of those affected by the layoff. Second, companies should think and devise a plan to support employees’ processes and cope with the event’s impact,” Laxman shares. These factors can enhance empathy, compassion, and genuine care among everyone involved. It will help the employees and the environment heal better. The best method to handle such an issue, according to Agarwal, is following the safe old practice of giving a one or two-month notice period.
The other side
While employers must be considerate of their workforce, employees too need to prove worthy to be retained. “Employees are exposed to the shifts in markets and consequent impacts on their firm. Transparency is key. Employees need to look for such shifts and ask themselves – How can I be relevant? What is my learning ability and impact? Can I be an integral part of the firm of the future?” Kapur-Pillai explains.
A customer-oriented firm allows employees to comprehend the changing market undercurrents and provides an edge to adapt to changes. Keep looking for upscaling and new industries. Networking with every possible person is vital.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )