How to Handle Lay-Offs – Twitter vs Stripe

How to Handle Lay-Offs – Twitter vs Stripe

A tale of severance & five essential lessons for leaders

Is there ever a ‘good way’ to tell people they no longer have a job? Well, Twitter and Stripe have recently had to grapple with this challenge, with other companies, such as Meta, following swiftly behind.

Twitter & Stripe: Do They Practise What They Preach?

How leaders respond and communicate in difficult times is key to the health and wellbeing of both their people, and their business. Many companies have often already publicly declared how they want to talk to people, through proudly displayed value statements on their websites.

Blowing your own trumpet on what matters to your business is great, but it must be real. Have a little read of how important Twitter thinks healthy conversation is.

In summary … ‘should be able to speak your mind’ … ‘find credible information easily’ …’want you to be part of the conversation’ … ‘you should feel safe.’

Then consider the chaotic communication around the severance of potentially 7,500 Twitter staff over the past few weeks. This story has been delivered to the public domain through knee-jerk tweets from company leaders, complemented by tales of exceptionally poor treatment shared by disgruntled (and who can blame them) former employees.

Twitter slashed nearly half of its workforce without any warning or formal process

In stark contrast, financial infrastructure internet startup Stripe, issued a bold press statement, publicly explaining how and why they would be laying off 14% of their workforce.

In a message that was slick beyond belief, the leadership team explained clearly what they were doing, and took full responsibility for mistakes that had been made.

Their brand values? Well, they include: ‘move with urgency and focus’, ‘think rigorously’ and ‘optimism’. Their statement about staff lay-offs, is a perfect ode to their brand values. This is a crucial lesson for all leaders. 

Create strong values, that you can really live by. Make them the foundation for your business and you will have a unshakeable confidence that will help to guide you through the tough times. This nugget, is the first of our essential lessons for leaders on laying people off with decency and integrity …

Stripe cut 14% of its staff and released one of the best statements I’ve ever seen

Live your values – more so during challenging times

  • Values guide how leaders behave and how we make decisions.
  • Strong values help you when the sh*t hits the fan, living by them also matters to your customers.
  • Contradicting your own values makes you look insincere, weak and degrades trust. It will impact your people, your customers and your supply chain.

Lay-off and redundancy procedures should, as a minimum, be legally compliant

  • It’s the basics. Make sure you understand your legislative requirements. The CIPD and ACAS have lots of guidelines on redundancies and lay-offs.
  • For more nuanced support, that addresses how to approach lay-offs with compassion, integrity and focus, consider working with an external consultant, who can guide your HR with a fresh pair of eyes. 👋🏼 Hiya!

Word will get out – manage the message

  • You can try to mitigate the wider impact of lay-offs, short-time working and redundancies by being transparent and ‘owning’ the process publicly.
  • Obviously, a big company, like Stripe, has a huge number of high-profile clients.
  • But equally, lay-offs and redundancies in a small town business, will have an impact on how you’re perceived in the local community. Both as an employer and as a supplier.

Remember the people left behind – support them

  • It’s tough to be laid off or made redundant, but it’s also hard to left behind. Help your team to understand what’s happening.
  • Communicate clearly and make sure managers are briefed to be able to help the team to regroup and move on as soon as possible.
  • Organise how you will move forward by reprioritising your goals (and communicating those priorities), making sure that your team has a plan to manage the work with a reduced workforce, and by continuing to provide performance and wellbeing support.

Put a recovery plan in place

  • When you plan your restructure don’t forget to include a programme for what will happen after people have gone. What will the company look like in the future, and how will you get there?
  • Also, if you are going to implement a recruitment freeze, how long will this last and what will the impact be on both your team and productivity?

Always follow your internal procedures and comply with employment law

Final thought

Above all, leaders must take note of the clear legislation and guidance from ACAS to guide employers who are considering making redundancies.

If you’re not sure which process and procedure to follow, or which legislation applies to your changes, talk to your HR Business Partner or give us a call.

I need HR support to restructure my team

Ending people’s employment is one the hardest things you must do as a leader. We have lots of experience in supporting organisations to make difficult decisions with compassion and confidence.

If you could benefit from the advice of an experienced specialist, then please, get in touch.