The revolution will be televised and so, it appears, will the layoffs.
Corporate layoffs are nothing new. In the past, however, the hundreds or thousands of people who were affected remained relatively anonymous.
The unprecedented and remarkable thing about Google’s firing of 12,000 was how many of the people posted the when, where, and how on social media.
Instead of being faceless, we read stories from Justin Moore, Jeremy Joslin, Kanav Puri, Tom Frantzen, Jonathan Zetlaoui and many others.
Most of the accounts had a similar – I can’t believe this happened to me – combined with gratitude for time they spent at Google. There was a notable absence of rage.
Nevertheless, Google didn’t come off well.
People didn’t like the 3 a.m. termination emails combined with cutting ex-employees off the system with no warning. CEO Sundar Pichai’s “I take full responsibility” memo rang hollow.
“So this is what getting laid off via automated email feels like…” was how Stephen Long began his LinkedIn post.
David Masover, a software reliability engineer, wrote one of the more memorable accounts, detailing how he — even after being terminated — sought to alert his former colleagues of the need to cover his shift to monitor for any outage.
He said he felt a responsibility because he had caused a major outage on YouTube several years ago. He was at the company 8 ½ years.
He ended his post with echoes of Game of Thrones, saying: “My shift is over.”
Google management probably didn’t expect this level of public scrutiny.
Part of the negative reaction stems from Google touting itself as a kinder, gentler place and then firing people in a more draconian way even than Goldman Sachs, which gave notice to executives in advance and allowed people to pack up and say goodbye.
It’s unlikely to change the game plan that companies now use to fire people.
It should, however, make employees more wary and less loyal.
As Justin Moore wrote, big employers “see you as 100% disposable.”
One of the recurring themes in the layoff posts was how people were blindsided by losing access to the corporate systems where they kept contact information.
It’s a good idea for everyone to have a contingency plan that starts with collecting the personal contact information for anyone you care about or would want to reach out to in the future.
It is the people, not the company that will help you in the future. Or, as Masover wrote, “your team has your back.”