Technology has largely been a blessing in the corporate world, making many things significantly easier for companies and employees alike. It has been impactful in storing and sorting out essential data and has also been immensely helpful in easy and smooth communication regardless of distance or time.
Technology has become indispensable. During the pandemic it helped numerous companies stay in business at a time when people were not able to meet in person and needed to collaborate effectively remotely. However, a new trend is emerging and there are companies that have taken things a step too far by using the very technology that kept their teams working together, to communicate bad news to their employees en masse, such as restructuring and layoffs.
Corporate Bodies Adopting This New Trend
Over a decade ago, RadioShack, a popular electronics retailer, informed 400 workers that they were getting laid off by email. In reaction to this, Bruce Raynor, a labour leader, criticized RadioShack’s management proclaiming that it was a horrible way to treat people.
Moving on to the pandemic era, it came as a shock when several companies started adopting this method to inform staff that their employment was being terminated. In 2020, Canopy Growth, a cannabis company, was one of the first to execute mass layoffs via a zoom announcement. That zoom announcement informed two hundred unsuspecting people about their contract termination.
It is no longer news that the pandemic was brutal on every industry, and since movements were restricted, most companies adopted such methods as they had no other alternative.
However, it seems that companies have become very comfortable with this remote layoff method as they have employed it more in the pre-pandemic era. Hundreds of ferry workers in the UK were informed via a zoom announcement that their jobs were going, and thousands of other workers in different industries worldwide have received this type of news via emails or zoom announcements in the most shocking manner.
Meta and Twitter also participated in this trend recently, as they informed thousands of employees about their layoffs via email.
Klarna, a Swedish company, also decided to do things differently as it announced its intentions to lay off some workers to about 700 people via a pre-recorded message. All these people were then left in suspense, wondering whether they were affected as they waited for the decisive email.
This mass employment termination with technology became so rampant in big and small companies that it made headlines consecutively for weeks.
How Do Workers Feel About This?
Paula Allen, a senior Vice President at LifeWork, a human resource firm, asserted that this new trend of announcing layoffs through technology is another prime example of its misuse. Just like Bruce Raynor said 16 years ago in reaction to RadioShack, most employees who have received this depressing message agreed that it was inhumane for the companies responsible for adopting that method.
The laid-off workers noted that they would not have felt as bad if the companies had at least tried to inform them in person as they should, noting that using technology to communicate such information is very inconsiderate.
Allen added that this new trend has made working efficiently even more difficult for staff who are yet to be laid off, as they do not know when the organization might decide to execute another mass termination.
Moving forward, it is safe to say that workers are against this remote layoff method and are hoping that it is not made the new normal.