Twitter Laying off 8% of Workforce & Wrongly Informs Staff Via Tweet

twitter layoff

Here’s a case of bad decisions becoming a public relations problem for Twitter.  The fast-growing technology company decided to make layoffs – which is a fact of life in business – yet the way they notified – or rather, did not notify – those being laid off was handled terribly.

He tweeted they were being fired – with a link to a letter, and noted “We are doing this with the utmost respect for each and every person. Twitter will go to great lengths to take care of each individual by providing generous exit packages and help finding a new job.”

bart Teeuwisse twitter layoff

That’s nice of them, but some of those affected found out they were no longer employed by being unable to access their Twitter email accounts – where interestingly enough, they were notified about impending layoffs – not necessarily about their own layoff.

One employee, Bart Teeuwisse, posted a picture of his email account not being available and said he was apparently laid off – he later said the company had left a voicemail message about that too. But even if the employees got the email or the phone call, that’s still a highly impersonal way of letting people know you are upending their lives.

Teeuwisse works from home; on his LinkedIn account he’s listed as a Senior Software Engineer working at Twitter since 2011. His public posting served him to some extent as he’s received several employment offers in reply to his post on Twitter. The press, of course, is all over this story, several of them posting on Teeuwisse’s Twitter account wanting a chance to talk about what happened. That’s not a good sign for Twitter.

twitter layoff

When people are losing their jobs – over 300 of them in fact, it does not equate to the “utmost respect” to let them find out in such impersonal ways. And when you extend that to a company that is built around getting messages out, it sends a negative message about the abilities of the company as well.

Obviously a company does not lay that many people off without taking some time to make decisions, set things in motion, etc. So what went wrong? What could have been done better or differently? It might have taken a bit more time and effort on the company’s part, but they could certainly have notified people in batches – arranging for video conferencing sessions with a few of the work from home employees at a time, answering questions and other overtures of respect. The severance package is great, but making this kind of move is not just bad for your public image. It’s also bad for employee morale.

Some of those employees remaining surely feel shaky and even if this move was a one-time decision, and assurances are made, time will be needed before all of the rank and file recuperate from this poorly communicated decision.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals in the company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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