67 - Reduction in F*cks Given (Mass Layoffs)

Mass layoffs are not only a hot topic but a real legal maneuver… over a certain number of employees there are some requirements, notices and things to take into account. They are stickier than they sound. Also, they suck. Tyson and Alexa talk about how LinkedIn is playing a debatably helpful role in these situations, how to navigate your resume during a mass layoff, and why wanting to work somewhere ‘for the culture’ makes us want to vomit a little.


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Release Date: October 12, 2022

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Warning, this podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Alexa Baggio: Just another day in the office.

[00:00:18] Alexa: There's nothing better than a bunch of people who work in HR getting around a table and sharing these stories. We have this out-of-body experience in HR where you're like, "But I get you."

[00:00:26] Alexa: It's not that bad.

[00:00:26] Tyson Mackenzie: HR is not bad, it's not.

[00:00:28] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I on this podcast, we'll make you laugh.

[00:00:31] Announcer: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

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[00:00:39] Alexa: What's up, Tyson?

[00:00:40] Tyson: Not too much really. Actually not too much. Speaking of what's up, I have a funny story.

[00:00:47] Alexa: Oh, yes.

[00:00:49] Tyson: Here we go. I'm just digesting what my cool thoughts are.

[00:00:51] Alexa: Okay, verbal processing. Let's go.

[00:00:54] Tyson: Verbal, here we go. Here we go. Let me talk through this. A funny story and very concerning for me. I go out for lunch with a friend, and obviously, I have to bring my child because that's part of being a mom. You have to bring your kid everywhere, right?

[00:01:05] Alexa: Right.

[00:01:05] Tyson: Bring my baby, we're sitting outside on a patio and she's sitting in this high chair that they gave to us, this shitty old wooden high chair that's not very safe but it's what you always get at restaurants. Anyway, the patio of this place is right next to a weed shop. We have weed shops in Canada. They're everywhere, I don't know if you guys have those, but anyways.

[00:01:25] Alexa: In some states, a few. Increasingly more. Not enough.

[00:01:30] Tyson: This weed shop is blasting trap music and rap music and all this stuff. Anyways, my fucking kid, she gets up out of the high chair holding onto the back of the high chair, just starts dancing to this song that comes on. She's balling up and down to this trap.

[00:01:49] Alexa: [laughs]

[00:01:49] Tyson: She's fucking trap queen over here. She's literally on this high chair standing and I'm like, "Oh my good God, get down." I'm trying to move her. It was so funny and my friend was like, "Oh, yes, you look like your daddy but you're definitely your mommy's child."

[laughter]

[00:02:04] Tyson: I'm like, "Oh, God." It was just hilarious. She's doing the funniest stuff now that she's like getting bigger and she's super mobile and able-bodied, and everything. I just thought that that was so funny. I'm like, "Oh gosh, I am going to have my hands full with this one."

[00:02:20] Alexa: You are. I think you are at the very early stages of that being a little chaotic but also hysterical.

[00:02:24] Tyson: [laughs]. It was so funny. [chuckles]

[00:02:28] Alexa: Very cute. Smart girl, Rosie.

[00:02:30] Tyson: [laughs]

[00:02:31] Alexa: You're in trouble with that one.

[00:02:33] Tyson: Oh, yes.

[00:02:34] Alexa: Cool. Well, very cool. Well, let me do let do our homework for the top of the episode and then we'll jump right in. Today's episode is brought to you by our community, The People Ops Society. Join our community of listeners and People Ops Professionals at POPS. You can use the forum for feedback, download awesome resources and templates shared by peers, and get access to cool free courses like Tyson's Art of Compensation Course. Use the Code People Problems at People Ops Society to get 20% off your membership today. Again, use the code People Problems at peopleopssociety.com to join our community. Shameless plug for the episode, make sure to follow us on all things social @peopleproblemspod, @hr.shook, and @theinfluenchr, spelled with an HR, on all the things, the Gram, the talk, the whatever it is these days that the kids are checking out.

[00:03:15] Tyson: The talk.

[00:03:16] Alexa: The talk, yes. [laughs] I don't know, I tried. Tell me you're over 30 without telling me you're over 30. All right, Tyson. You picked this topic for tonight, and the topic for tonight is mass layoffs. Context here, by the time this airs especially, this is not news. There is an extreme amount of mass layoffs happening predominantly in the tech world, but just in general. I think there's a couple of cultural phenomenons around the idea of a mass layoff. They're significantly more public than they used to be. I think they're handled a little differently than they used to be. What are your opening thoughts? Why is this something that you think is important to talk about, Tyson?

[00:03:56] Tyson: I think what we should start with, there are certain legislations that actually dictate what a mass termination is.

[00:04:02] Alexa: Yes, I believe it's over 50 people.

[00:04:06] Tyson: Typically, it's over 50 in an amount of time. It's usually four weeks or something. Over 50 people in 4 weeks. That's what it is in Ontario for sure. There are some ways around that if you're thinking about location-wise. Sometimes you can jig it to say that your people in Ontario if you lay off let's say 30, and then you lay off another 20 in a different jurisdiction, you can separate the two out so that you're not deemed a mass termination.

[00:04:33] Tyson: For people who don't know this, this is not just media lingo. A mass termination is actually a governmental designation.

[00:04:38] Tyson: It is legal.

[00:04:40] Alexa: It is a legal designation that indicates a specific reduction in force that's big enough to trigger to unemployment agencies and all these things that a true act of mass layoff has happened. It's an important distinction that you have to register when it happens, or I believe in the States might automatically register.

[00:04:59] Tyson: I think you do have to notify someone when you're doing a mass termination, and what's interesting about mass termination is it actually changes the way that you would be paying someone termination pay. Again, I'm very heavily influenced by Canadian law, especially Ontario. I can tell you if they have like a list, right? It's like a, or sorry, a range so if it's between 50 and 100, you have to pay this much termination pay. If it's between 100 and 200, it's this termination pay, and it's actually quite a bit higher.

I think it starts at eight weeks, then I think the next level is 12 weeks, and then any more than like 200 people, you're paying 16 weeks per person. There's a lot to think about when a lot that's a lot of money. Right? Because you're mass laying off and then you're having to give everyone 16 weeks when some of those people would only be owed maybe two, between two and eight, right? We typically cap out at eight weeks and then plus severance. There's a whole- I'm not going to go down that route.

It's definitely important to identify that and what's interesting too about that is you need to be cognizant of different business units as well. So let's say you work in like a firm that has like an office in Toronto, Ottawa, and Waterloo. These are all Ontario, Canada cities-

[00:06:23] Alexa: Yes, we know you're Canadian.

[00:06:23] Tyson: -for anyone who's like, what? Exactly, so you've got these three cities that are all in the same province, and if you're laying people off, you need to make sure that you're coordinating with each other to make sure that there's not going to be a situation where you get close to mass termination. That's more of just like a heads-up to being aware of what's happening throughout the company but there are different ways around, I think the word is business unit or something like that, in the actual employment standards. Get familiar with that if you're doing any layoff of even just like more than 20 people.

[00:06:57] Alexa: Yes. Look, I'm certainly not a US expert on this, and sometimes I wish we had our buddy John Hyman here to talk to us about this. I'm sure he knows a lot about it, but the things I think that are also interesting that people probably are not aware of is when you're doing a mass termination in certain, in I think it's certain industries, again, I think I don't know where it doesn't apply, but it can trigger advanced notice requirements as well.

For example, if you are going to lay off, really famous mass terminations are like the whole General Motors factory in Detroit. Right? These moments of what previously before it was like, "Oh, Zenga or Hoot Suite lays off 30% of its workforce." It was like, no, half of the car companies in Detroit are shutting down entire factories. When you do those kinds of layoffs, there are protections in place of varying degrees to require you to give advanced notice to the employees because it allows for proper planning, adjustment of healthcare coverage, family leave, all of these things.

That's one of the reasons you have to be cognizant of it is, to your point, if you're not cognizant and you're doing multi-location riffs and all of a sudden you've triggered this but you haven't given everyone notice, you could be in a whole pile of dog shit pretty quickly.

[00:08:14] Tyson: Yes.

[00:08:15] Alexa: As an employer entirely unintentionally.

[00:08:17] Tyson: I think that just coordination of what the hell is going on I think is the number one thing to think about with any mass termination. Coordination of who's doing what, what the process looks like which we can get into, things to consider, over extras and above, those types of things. Yes, this coordination during mass terminations is probably the most difficult aspect of them because usually, it's not like one person that can just sit there and do the whole thing, right? [crosstalk]

[00:08:50] Alexa: No, it's just one HR asshole in a room with a bunch of strings being like, "Oh, we're going to fire all 500 of these people." No, that's not how that works. Let's talk a little bit about the process. Why don't you walk people through the basics of the process and the structure, and then I think we should talk a little bit maybe about some of the cultural changes and implications to this because, again, I think mass layoffs are a in vogue topic of 2022, but not maybe in the way that they should be for a lot of reasons.

[00:09:18] Tyson: I would say there's definitely a lot of debate about whether or not a mass termination should be everybody in the same room or on the same call with one person delivering the message to let's say 50 people, 51 people, versus divide and conquer your managers and your people team to have one on one conversations all happening at the same time, or close to the same time, at least within the same day.

[00:09:44] Alexa: Where do you fall on that opinion spectrum?

[00:09:48] Tyson: I go back and forth a lot on this. I really do, because I think I used to feel very strongly that I like one person, the highest level of management possible in the room with everybody at the same time delivering the message, and that's how I used to stand. Because I used to think for me, myself, if I was a part of something like this, I actually would want to be sitting in a room of 100 other people- [crosstalk]

[00:10:14] Alexa: To know it's not you.

[00:10:15] Tyson: -the exact same message from the person who made the decision. Not some low-level person, not an HR person, but from the person whose decisions resulted in the mass termination. I want to know everyone's getting the same message, so just, from that perspective, that's how I used to feel, but now as I get older and I become a little bit more sensitive, I start to really feel like are people owed the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with someone. I do like that if the person they're having a conversation with is prepared to give them the answers.

We talked about this on a earlier episode, this idea that like, we don't necessarily just have to be like because it was a business decision in these meetings. Like we can divulge a little bit more information, especially in a situation when this is like a layoff due to, "Look, the business is going down in some way or another. Many people are impacted by this," that sort of thing.

I'm starting to be swayed, but as always it depends. If you cannot execute meetings happening, if you don't have the ability to execute that in a good way, then I would almost say that one, like one meeting with everybody in it is the better option. Because coordinating managers, HR folks, the employees, like I've done that early on in my career. I've done a lot, not, I never got to a point of a mass layoff, but I got pretty freaking close and I would have to coordinate the entire thing and it is extremely difficult and stuff always goes wrong, so you have to have the person power, the logistics are a nightmare. You need to have a strong team to be able to execute that.

[00:12:09] Alexa: I think that's a lot of the reason why it's become more commonplace to just like wrangle everybody on a Zoom call and be like, "We got to do this, because it's just like, it just isn't that easy." Like it just isn't that easy to coordinate all these people.

[00:12:18] Tyson: It's very hard.

[00:12:20] Alexa: Yes, and it's really hard. I think you touched on a very important point, which I think is that in which situation is there more humility, right? Where you get to talk to your manager individually about it versus you hear it as a group, there are emotional implications for both. Obviously, both executed poorly are bad, [chuckles] neither are good, but at the same time, if I was to say, "Look, it doesn't have to be either or, what if it's an and," I could imagine a world where I sit down with my manager, I get told this news, and then I am put into a meeting with the whole group to hear the news from the upper echelons of like where this decision came from.

[00:12:54] Tyson: Or vice versa. I think how it usually happens would be the other way.

[00:12:57] Alexa: Yes, but either way, the devil on my other shoulder is like, do you really need to have two meetings to get fired? Isn't one enough? [laughs] Like, do we really need to double down on this just to make sure we've covered our emotional bases? Because this sucks either way.

[00:13:10] Tyson: The other thing that makes this so challenging when you're, again, coordinating this and you're thinking about the logistics is, okay, yes. Let's say you're firing 60 people. What about everybody else who's not getting fired? How are you controlling what they're hearing, how they're responding, how they're reacting? Because what happens is one person gets let go and then it's like wildfire, just spreads. Whether you're virtual or in the office, all of a sudden everybody knows what's going on.

They start seeing people deactivated on Slack or whatever, so it spreads really quickly when people start getting laid off, especially when there's a number of people and it's happening over the course of a day if you're spreading out one-on-one meetings, so it's very difficult to then control. Okay, everybody else is like freaking out. The survivors, they call them, right, waiting to hear their name get called basically.

[00:14:06] Alexa: Right.

[00:14:07] Tyson: That's really, really, really hard to control as well when you're doing one-on-one meetings.

[00:14:13] Alexa: Yes. That just spreads like a virus. That just spreads like a bad TikTok. [laughs] It's, sorry, too soon?

[00:14:23] Tyson: I can't. I can't. [chuckles]

[00:14:24] Alexa: Too soon. Too soon. That was a reference to my own bad TikToks going viral, which is really funny. Funny for me, anyway. Yes. I think damned if you do, damned if you don't, and the other thing to remember is, as we talk about lots of times on these episodes is [unintelligible 00:14:38] you just can't make everybody happy, right? You might want the CEO on Zoom in three minutes, like Better.com, and someone else might be like, "If I don't hear this directly from my manager with 25 minutes of explanation about how it's not me, it's them," you know? It's just like people in a breakup. Some people are like, "Just rip the fucking Band-Aid off," and other people are like, "No, I really need to understand. Tell me why," you know?

[00:14:59] Tyson: Yes.

[00:15:00] Alexa: "Help me understand."

[00:15:01] Tyson: The problem is people might actually think that they want that time, but--

[00:15:05] Alexa: It doesn't change the outcome.

[00:15:06] Tyson: It doesn't change the outcome and in that moment, people are typically so stunned that even if they're asking questions-

[00:15:12] Alexa: Yes, it's shock.

[00:15:13] Tyson: -that's not a great time. Perhaps another alternative could be hearing the wide message with a group of people. Again, we're talking mass layoffs. This isn't just one person who had performance issues. This is a situation where the company, for some business reason, needs to let go of people.

[00:15:35] Alexa: At least 50 of them all at the same time.

[00:15:37] Tyson: At least 50, all at the same, within a four-week period, depending on what your jurisdiction is. With that, I think it's super, super important that there is a message from, whether it be the CEO or whoever that's like, "Hey, this is the business decisions that were made that led us here and this is what's happening, and this is why we have to let people go."

[00:15:56] Alexa: Here's what you're entitled to.

[00:15:58] Tyson: Yes. Here's what you're entitled to, and then maybe it's like, afterwards, if you have questions or if you need more information, we're going to make sure that there's, I don't know, HR business partner office hours or manager office hours. Just because you're fired on Wednesday doesn't mean you can never talk to anybody at the company ever again. Maybe there's a digestion period that happens after that initial shock so people can gather themselves and think about what their questions are and then have a meeting one on one with maybe a manager, maybe HR is in there, or whatever that looks like.

[00:16:30] Alexa: Yes. Look, and I don't mean to jump out of order here if we were going in an order, but I think this is probably the single most important part of this conversation that gets missed when we talk about mass layoffs all the time, which is, or just layoffs in general almost is, it almost doesn't matter how the message gets out, the message is the message. Like, "You are no longer employed here as of the following date. Here's your severance package." That's going to land however the fuck that lands. That is the underpinnings of however it gets communicated, whether it's one on one or in mass or well or badly. The thing you take away is today I got let go, right?

The most important part of this conversation, I don't think people spent enough time talking about, which is why that CEO who cried and posted his photo on LinkedIn got absolutely fucking annihilated by the comment section on LinkedIn. I feel for him, I really do. I think it's the most important part of this conversation is, "Okay, but what are you doing in this period post just getting the words out of your mouth?"

The words are, "Okay, cool, you're fired," but the more important part of this conversation is, "Here's how we are going to help you successfully land," or, " Here is how we are going to help you transition," or, "Here's how we're going to make sure that your resumes or emails are now available in a public spreadsheet," which we can talk about, which is a new phenomenon.

I think the companies that do this well, it's not really about how the message gets delivered like the Better.com CEO who got raked over the coals. I actually think that guy would've taken a lot less shit had it been like, "Yes, he let 900 of us go in under three minutes but there was an insane follow-up strategy about how to get us all help and how to be communicative to us as employees that we were going to need a soft landing here."

[00:18:22] Tyson: Yes. He's also not the first CEO that did that, to be honest.

[00:18:26] Alexa: No, not at all. Not at all.

[00:18:27] Tyson: I've known people who have been in on those meetings getting fired with a billion other people.

[00:18:32] Alexa: Yes, it's just a little colder when it's on Zoom, but that's a newer phenomenon, I think.

[00:18:37] Tyson: I've seen it before. It happened to a company called Tweed in Canada. Again, it's a marijuana company. They did the same thing to their entire marketing team, but it was literally everybody on a Zoom call. Anyways, so I think you're dead on there. What's interesting about mass terminations is, again, where you have to think about what are you doing over and above.

Typically when I've been a part of any sort of, whether it be a mass termination or a large group of terminations that are based on business failing, again, not a performance situation, this is just because our business is going down, so we have to let people go, there's always extras that are thrown into the termination packages. Whether they pad on extra termination extra weeks, they give outplacement program, they sometimes have employment counselors on site. Sometimes there's even EAP on site. What else have I seen? Letting people take their company laptops and keep them. Letting them keep their office set up. That's a new newer thing with working from home. They just add extras to the termination package, which is unique to mass terminates.

[00:19:44] Alexa: Look, it depends on the company. I think it depends on the situation, right? Letting 50 employees keep their laptop when you're 10,000 employees is not a big deal. I think what's more interesting is some of these things that I think the greater group dynamic has taken a hold of that now companies are starting to cling to as their own. For example, this idea of like, when we do a mass termination, we publish the names, titles, email addresses, and departments of everyone that we laid off.

[00:20:12] Tyson: This is very new. Yes. Let's talk about this. This is very new.

[00:20:16] Alexa: What's the word? Re-appropriated as something that I think employees used to do as a fuck you. Like you let us all go, "Hey, LinkedIn, here's a spreadsheet of everybody that just got fired if you want to hire us." Now it's almost like the etiquette is like, "Oh, we have like a spreadsheet for everyone that we just let go."

[00:20:35] Tyson: But who's create-- Is it the companies that are creating those or is it one good Samaritan that's like, "Hey, I was a part of this layoff. I'm starting a list."

[00:20:46] Alexa: I think it's probably a combination. I think it's probably a combination. I would venture to guess that the better angels of some, usually probably someone on the people team is like it wouldn't be a horrible idea for you guys to just put your shit in here and we'll get the word out. It could be a good Samaritan. I'm not sure it's necessarily like an assigned role.

[00:21:03] Tyson: No, but it's important to know because I'm wondering as someone on the people team are we meant to be doing that now?

[00:21:11] Alexa: Well, what do you think of them? Before we go there, what do you think of that particular strategy?

[00:21:17] Tyson: Look, I'm going to sound like a Wicked Witch of the West right here for a second but when people get laid off, yes, it's because business is going down, but you're not letting go of your best people in these situations.

[00:21:33] Alexa: Mm, that is a very interesting point.

[00:21:34] Tyson: We're typically trimming fat. I'm going to say something real controversial here.

[00:21:42] Alexa: Give it to me.

[00:21:42] Tyson: We're not only trimming fat sometimes but we're also trimming some real big problems. The people that we might have been trying to fire like in the last six months, but then all of a sudden they have some sort of internal complaint, some sort of sick leave situation that's all fake. Again, this is so controversial, I'm going to get so much hate I feel like for saying this, but all of a sudden a mass termination situation's happening.

[00:22:13] Alexa: It's like a fucking colon cleanse.

[laughter]

[00:22:16] Tyson: I can't, but it's very easy to get to discuss that.

[00:22:23] Alexa: Yes, yes. Oh, yes.

[00:22:26] Tyson: Grain of salt. Every situation, of course, is going to be different like you said. If this is a very small company, probably not too many people to let-- If we're saying like, I don't know, there's 200 people at the company, we're letting go of 50, yes, there's going to be some, probably some pretty good performers in there. But if we're talking like big, big companies, look, we're not going to get rid of our best, best, best people. I still think it's nice that we're trying to help people get a job.

[00:22:52] Alexa: There's just nothing. There's no reason not to is how I look at it.

[00:22:55] Tyson: There's no reason not to, no.

[00:22:57] Alexa: It's easy to do.

[00:22:57] Tyson: It's a nice thing to do.

[00:22:59] Alexa: It's zero skin off anyone's back. It helps those people out. Fuck it, it should be [unintelligible 00:23:03].

[00:23:04] Tyson: I am a pro I think that everybody should be working. I don't think I want to be a part of a society where like people are unemployed. I don't know, call me conservative, but I really prefer that people are not unemployed.

[00:23:15] Alexa: No, no one wants that. That's bad for everyone.

[00:23:16] Tyson: Exactly. Well, unless you're Justin Trudeau, but anyways, so won't go down that road. Yes, I don't know. I like to help people so I don't think that there's any issue with that at all. Obviously, they'd still have to go through the same interview process. It's not like some companies are just going to be like, "Okay, yes, we'll just take you." No, they're still going to have to go through some sort of vetting so they can make those decisions for themselves. It's a nice thing to do.

[00:23:39] Alexa: It's a nice thing to do. I also think like, look, I don't think when a massive blue chip company lets a bunch of their lower half go that their biggest competitor is over their salivating, licking their chops, right? I think the people and the companies that really actually benefit from that are a little lower down the food chain that are like, "Oh, this was Facebook's scraps, but to me, this is actually a potentially very high performer."

I think that's actually really helpful for people. I've seen a lot of people on LinkedIn very recently even being like, just from these kinds of companies, small, growing, needs some people, you tend to find, especially I think at least in the tech space with these layoffs, is the people that are getting laid off are the replicates. They're the people that the company is so established and their roles are so defined that you're letting go of people that are really very skilled, very headcount oriented roles most easily.

You're not getting rid of the guy who helped you launch the new product and is running a whole business unit. You're getting rid of the marketing coordinator who does the digital asset thing that you could do in like six different-- It's a very replicable role.

[00:24:50] Tyson: Totally. You're right.

[00:24:52] Alexa: Yes, right? That's just true. That's just how growth works in businesses, and so I think those roles have value to other parts of the labor food chain, but to a larger company, to your point, they're not the more critical, more heartier roles. They're the things that tend to be a little bit more defined and specialized and skill oriented.

[00:25:15] Tyson: Totally, and there are so many reasons why a mass termination would happen too, right? Because sometimes it's just as simple as like, "We don't want to do this type of business anymore. Chop, gone." In that case, it's just everybody and their brother that's on that team. Now, is that the right way of doing that? Maybe not. We can talk about workforce management on another episode, but sometimes it's just as simple as that. We're not going to pursue this project anymore so chop, all these people gone.

In that case, of course, it's going to be very different. It's not like we're picking out performance or anything. It's just simply like, "You are part of this team. We don't need this team anymore. You're gone." There are so many nuances to these things, right? It's difficult.

[00:25:54] Alexa: I know, but the world has lost all sense of nuance so it's fun to talk about these things because somebody's got to do it. I think the other thing that's interesting is there's this whole culture around these now. We've talked about the posting of the spreadsheets, obviously, but I also think it's really interesting that people are much more vocal about their participation or not participation, but they're--

[00:26:18] Tyson: Getting laid off.

[00:26:19] Alexa: Yes, their being part of these terminations. In some ways, I actually think that's helpful because I do think, like when you interview someone, the context with which they left their last job is really important. You can be like, "Oh, this person--" I've had people on my team, we do events and stuff, who are like, "Yes, COVID happened and I got let go from this company and now they're on my door and I'm ready to go."

It helps, I think, with the story to be able to own the idea that you were part of this thing that was a little bit bigger than you and was a piece of your career you didn't have control over. I'm not sure how I feel about the culture of people posting the sob story on LinkedIn of, "Today I got let go." There just been a lot of that recently that I'm like, "I'm not sure." Although LinkedIn has just become basically daytime Facebook. It's horrible.

[00:27:07] Tyson: Yes, there definitely is a lot of that. A part of me actually likes that we're normalizing, I guess, being a part of these things because I think-

[00:27:15] Alexa: Yes, for sure.

[00:27:17] Tyson: -that we're living in a volatile market. We've been here before, 2008 or whatever. These things happen where people are a part of layoffs and it's to no fault of their own really.

[00:27:31] Alexa: Right, just look at March 2020.

[00:27:34] Tyson: Right. Exactly. I know I referenced before that often it's not your best performers that are getting laid off first, but again, nuance here. There are so many different situations. Oftentimes, there are really good people that get impacted. If you are someone who has been impacted by something like this, it's important that you don't feel, and I'm bringing this up, so I've had friends call me after being fired and they're like, "I'm never going to find another job again. What am I going to say? What am I going to say to my next employer? What am I going to say in interviews," and stuff like that.

[00:28:05] Alexa: That's what I mean. It's really helpful to be able to have this story that's like, no, no, this isn't like Tyson's interpretation of why she got let go because she is an underperformer, this shit was massive fucking headlines, like CNN+. The people that were involved in CNN+ were some of the best content creators and media personas ever assembled. HBO or whoever, not HBO, whoever, maybe it was HBO, just came in and was like, "No, no, we're buying this shit show and this whole new experiment with all the cool kids making their own content on a subscription service that nobody buys, we're cutting that whole fucking thing. Sorry about it, you're all gone." Those people are going to find a job.

[00:28:43] Tyson: Exactly. That's what I was saying before. Sometimes it's just, "We don't want to do this anymore. All of you are gone." There are so many different things to consider when you're either doing a mass termination or you're thinking about hiring someone who was part of a mass termination or you were a part of a mass termination and how to move forward. I agree. I don't share a lot of personal stuff on LinkedIn so I guess, for me, it's more of just I'm like, I wouldn't do that.

[00:29:13] Alexa: Just stupidest stuff. I played in Penas in Lisbon this weekend. What are you doing? How are we doing?

[00:29:19] Tyson: Oh my god, that actually sounds amazing though. That's a cool thing to update people on.

[00:29:24] Alexa: That's it. That's all I post. It's like, "Here's what I did that was maybe interesting to some of you. How are we doing out there?"

[00:29:29] Tyson: Very Cool. I think that just makes you a well-rounded entrepreneur. That just sells me on your business. You're cool.

[00:29:36] Alexa: I'll take it.

[00:29:37] Tyson: Cool. [chuckles]

[00:29:37] Alexa: Thanks. Appreciate it. I got the HR Shook seal of approval. That means a lot to me. Look, I do think normalizing it is important. I think just, in general, to play that up for a hot second, I think the culture of just normalizing changes in work, in general, is really healthy. I feel like the zeitgeist has been a lot of fear around, "Oh, I have a hole in my resume. How am I possibly going to explain this?" I'm like, I don't really actually give a shit about your resume if you're sitting in front of me. I don't really give a shit about your resume in general. I just have to use them as a tool to weed out candidates in a way because with online applicants now, it's like you just get fucking assaulted with resumes as soon as you're hiring.

It's about the story, it's about the context of you and how you got here, some of which is not going to be in your control. It's totally okay if you had to take six months off and there's a hole in your resume if you say to me you were caring for an ill parent. That makes all the sense in the fucking world to me. I don't need more explanation than that. There's always been this history of, and maybe it really comes from just the formality of resumes, but there's always been this stigma around having lapses or having to explain or my favorite, which is actually one of my fucking pet peeves, which is when you ask someone why they left their last job and they will give you some bullshit fucking answer about like, "Oh I'm just looking for growth opportunities," and it's not to their fault-

[00:31:05] Tyson: That's what everybody says.

[00:31:06] Alexa: -because they've been coached to say don't shit talk your last employer, especially if you're still working there, and I'm like, I call bullshit. I want to know exactly what the fuck I'm getting into with you, and it's okay if you tell me like I'm leaving that place because it's kind of a shit show. It tells me that you have your fucking eyes open while you're doing this. Don't do it in a way that makes me think like, oh you're going to shit talk us here too, you won't be happy. Don't go on a first date with a girl and then tell her why you didn't like the last one and describe the girl sitting in front of you, but--

[00:31:35] Tyson: That's what I was going to say. If I'm on a date with someone-

[00:31:38] Alexa: You got to be tactful about it.

[00:31:39] Tyson: -and they're shit-talking their ex, I'm not going to be super into that. I feel like--

[00:31:47] Alexa: Yes, you got to be tasteful about it. You got to indicate that shit is over. They were very different than you and it's a situation that just didn't work out.

[00:31:55] Tyson: I don't know how you feel about saying in an interview that the last company wasn't a shit show. I had a really shitty boss over there. [chuckles]

[00:32:04] Alexa: Well, but I think there's ways to say that without saying that, right?

[00:32:07] Tyson: Totally.

[00:32:08] Alexa: I think there's ways to say, "Oh the culture just isn't for me. " I'm like, okay, that just means you don't fucking like it there, so tell me why. The number of times I have called a candidate out and been like you've basically just told me you hate where you work, so let's just fucking double-click on that. I'm not going to repeat after you or tell anyone you told me this, but do you hate it there in a way that's going to make me think that you're going to do the same shit to me as an employer, or do you hate it there with ways that actually make me respect the shit out of you for getting yourself out of that situation?

That's what I'm looking for in that moment is are you leaving for reasons that are like, that actually makes me think that you're a good teammate and a person who wants more for themselves and appreciates the surroundings, or are you just leaving because you don't think you're being treated right but it sounds like you actually have a pretty good setup?

[00:32:54] Tyson: I will also say that some people are leaving for growth I feel like also.

[00:32:59] Alexa: For sure.

[00:32:59] Tyson: Because oftentimes, people do hit a wall in a company. The growth thing, it can be a true answer.

[00:33:05] Alexa: Those people always still have the job.

[00:33:09] Tyson: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

[00:33:10] Alexa: 99% of the time, the people leaving for growth opportunities are being opportunistic and still have a job that they're good at.

[00:33:17] Tyson: Wait, are we sketched out by people who don't have a job when they're applying?

[00:33:22] Alexa: No.

[00:33:22] Tyson: Where are people standing on that? No.

[00:33:24] Alexa: All about the story, it's all about the context.

[00:33:26] Tyson: It's all about the story.

[00:33:27] Alexa: All about the context.

[00:33:28] Tyson: You can sit there and say, yes, I was part of this big-- My last company, this went downhill and we were part of a mass termination. [crosstalk]

[00:33:34] Alexa: I've probably interviewed 40 people in the last three months with that story.

[00:33:38] Tyson: Okay. Well, that's good then.

[00:33:40] Alexa: Who are just like, this was just a-- In the last two years, I've probably interviewed 100 people like that. They're just like, yes, I got caught up in one of these economic, it just happened. "I worked at a trade show business and they furloughed 40% of the company and they let another 40% go." "Yes, cool.

[00:33:56] Tyson: Right. No, exactly. Look, that story's a lot easier to tell when you've been a part of a mass termination I think. If you were fired from somewhere, then performance, that's a lot harder but we're not talking about that.

[00:34:09] Alexa: Yes. Those people are just lying to you when they interview, full stop. No way around it. [chuckles] What would you do? What would you do if you got let go for a bad performance and you walked into your next interview? Unless you're bold enough to walk in and be like, "Truthfully, I got let go for poor performance. I understood the error of my ways. Please take a chance on me," to which 99 out of 100 people interviewing you would be like, no chance. Maybe that one person is like, they see the error of their ways. I'll take them.

[00:34:32] Tyson: The thing is like the employer can't know that you were let go unless they know the manager that let you go. A lot of people are like, I don't know about the states, but here what happens is like we send a record of employment to Service Canada. It says that you were terminated and the very, very general reason why.

[00:34:52] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:34:52]

[00:34:52] Tyson: Nobody has access to that except for you. It's not like people know so you can just work to your strengths.

[00:35:01] Alexa: But you have to lie, that's the point. That's what I'm saying is if you were let go from your last job and they ask you why are you leaving or why didn't you leave?

[00:35:07] Tyson: Can we stop asking that question? Why did you leave? How about we say instead, why do you want to work here? I like that better. [crosstalk]

[00:35:13] Alexa: Because that's also a bullshit answer. [laughs] Why do I want to work here? The culture. The culture seems great, Tyson.

[00:35:21] Tyson: I was interviewing and everyone was saying the culture and that's actually my biggest pet peeve. I'm no-- [crosstalk]

[00:35:26] Alexa: That's one of my biggest pet peeves.

[00:35:28] Tyson: I know nothing about recruiting, but I'm like, you don't know what the fuck the culture is here.

[00:35:30] Alexa: You ask a candidate why do want to work here and they say, "The culture," and I literally throw up a little bit in my mouth every time. I'm like, "You don't know the fucking culture."

[00:35:39] Tyson: You don't know the culture here.

[00:35:40] Alexa: You have a collective 45 minutes with this company. You don't know fuck all about the culture. All that says to me is that you're probably looking for a lot less work and lifestyle improvement, in which case you should just fucking say that so I know what I'm getting into. I don't think we should get away from the why are you leaving your job question. I think it's important context.

Again, everything about an interview is can you tell the story of what you've done and why you've done it to date, and what that gives you experience and expertise in. Does this place make sense as a next move for you based on where you're trying to go? I think enough people, I think too many people in interviews don't ask where are you trying to be. They focus too much maybe on where did you come from or what have you done to date, Versus I just want to know that you working here is going to get you closer to wherever you want to be later because if it isn't, then you're not going to last here very long.

[00:36:30] Tyson: Then that's the growth answer which you just shit on a few minutes ago.

[00:36:34] Alexa: I didn't shit on it. No, I didn't shit on it. I think we just said there are those people, they're just not bullshitting you on these like why'd you leave your last company? They don't have holes in their resume. They're still working at that company.

[00:36:48] Tyson: Right, right, right.

[00:36:49] Alexa: Yes, I don't know, it's tough. Interviewing is a shitty game anyway.

[00:36:53] Tyson: Yes. I feel like we need to get a recruiter on here. We haven't done that, but anyways.

[00:36:57] Alexa: We need to get a few I think. Not all recruiters are the same.

[00:37:01] Tyson: Oh, absolutely not. Some are very salesy and some are more HR-ey. It's very different.

[00:37:06] Alexa: Some are just fucking terrible.

[00:37:09] Tyson: Oh, yes, but we don't want them on here. Gosh.

[00:37:11] Alexa: No, no.

[00:37:12] Tyson: No. Going back I think full circle on this conversation, with the mass terminations, it's just super important, like you said, to be able to have that story as well. I am pro-telling people why. I am pro-telling people why they're being fired. I think that that's super important and getting that message-- If it's one person giving the message, that's easy, but now if it's 55 people giving that message, it's got to be tight. Everybody's gotta be saying the same thing. I don't want this bullshit like, "I had no pull here. This came from-- The CEO told me I had to do this so, unfortunately, I don't have any information for you." None of that bullshit. Whether it's one meeting or multiple meetings happening, that message I think needs to be super tight and it needs to actually give people an answer.

[00:38:02] Alexa: I agree. Just know, as much as we should talk, the people that have to do this, and it is fucking hard to do, you are going to disappoint some people no matter how well you handle it. Because it's fucking hard news to take and there's no way to do it perfectly.

[00:38:16] Tyson: Yes, and look, I've had so many, I've fired a lot of people. I've done it because of business reasons, I've done it because of performance reasons, and you can never predict how people are going to react in any of these situations.

[00:38:29] Alexa: This is also, so what they tell you when you start a company is they tell you always be-- There's two things you should always be doing, always be recruiting, and you should always be fundraising. Basically, never turn away a connection that could help you fundraise or help you recruit. You're constantly taking candidates to coffee and I'm always having conversations with people that I'm like, I'm just talking to this person because I might want to hire them someday when I can afford that role or we grow that big, that's how I have a couple of the members of my team right now.

I think the rule also applies for the opposite of this, which is, if you find yourself in a mass termination, the single most important thing you can do is reach out to your prior connections, former bosses, former colleagues, people that know what you're good at from your last probably two stages of career and get on the fucking horn. Someone will be hiring. Someone will know you well enough to help you figure it out or get in front of a head hunter.

[00:39:22] Tyson: I actually love that too. That's another thing on the opposite side. One thing back in the day that was really taboo was the manager who is firing, it's like, "No, we're not going to give you a reference." That's really common practice for companies to say you can't give company references because there's legal issues, whatever.

I actually think that if a manager is put in a position where they have to let someone go because of non-performance related, it's business related, then you can give this person a reference and you don't have to put the company letterhead on it, but give the person a reference or reach out to your network. If you know someone in your network that's hiring, you can help this individual as well. That's another thing that I think we're moving towards that with all this stuff that's going on LinkedIn, but that was something back in the day that would have been super taboo.

[00:40:11] Alexa: That just gives me the irk to think about that that would have ever been taboo. Look, if they were a bad employee, they were a bad employee, I get it. We should do an entire episode on references because I find that to be a fascinating conversation. I have actually had reference situations where I thought I was gung-ho about someone and had what they thought was going to be a positive reference, walk me back from hiring people. I've had that happen multiple times, actually. Because you always just assume, "Oh, they're going to give a glowing reference."

They gave the reference, of course, they're going to like, "Oh, yes, we worked together. They were great. Cool. Thanks." Actually, it doesn't always happen. It does not always happen the way the reference thinks it does. If I was to say one word for how I think mass termination should be thought about, it's like karma. Just be fucking helpful if you're in a position to be helpful. Pay it forward. Put that good Juju out to the fucking world for the people you just had to let go, reference letters, whatever, because, why the fuck not?

[00:41:06] Tyson: Sometimes another thing that's becoming more common practice too is giving those letters to people that basically says, "Tyson was employed here for this time to this time," a employee reference letter or whatever they're called.

[00:41:18] Alexa: Oh, yes, a templated reference letter?

[00:41:20] Tyson: Yes.

[00:41:21] Alexa: Yes, that's cool.

[00:41:21] Tyson: Sometimes you throw those in too just so then the person can add that to their portfolio. It's like, "Okay, at least I have this letter saying that," because it's just one less thing for them to have to worry about. [crosstalk]

[00:41:29] Alexa: Yes. [unintelligible 00:41:30] Yes, exactly.

[00:41:32] Tyson: Yes, yes, yes.

[00:41:33] Alexa: Yes, exactly. Cool. All right, Tyson. Any other thoughts on the joys of mass layoffs before we let the good people go?

[00:41:41] Tyson: Well, because most of our audience is likely people who work in HR, these are fucking hard. They're really, really, really hard to do.

[00:41:50] Alexa: They're insanely hard to do well, yes.

[00:41:52] Tyson: Even just being a part of these meetings and being on the side of delivering these messages, I feel like we've talked about this before, but you really, really, really have to check in with yourself. I have a whole little routine that I do.

[00:42:05] Alexa: With your sage and shit?

[00:42:07] Tyson: I have my sage, I have my crystals around me.

[00:42:09] Alexa: What's a positive crystal to have around you while you're doing mass terms?

[00:42:14] Tyson: I keep Selenite. I don't have it right now. I don't know what's really with my other crystals but I keep Selenite usually on my desk, which absorbs and just cleanses energy. Anything black also, any Blackstone will definitely make sure that there's no bad juju around you, and it just gets sucked into the stone. That's how I see it. Anyways, so take care of yourself if you're part of these, make sure that you're not going in alone. I used to think that I could just do 25 in a day. I was lucky to have a mentor who was like, "You can't do that. Let's divide and conquer if you can." It's tough.

[00:42:48] Alexa: You're a fucking machine. It is, it is. Foreshadow that, that's really good advice. I think people should plan for that to be hard. Meet your colleagues for lunch or something. Go blow that seam off. Don't let that sit because you're just a foot soldier in that unfortunate war. All right, Tyson. Well, as always, it's been a pleasure. We're getting towards Halloween, I guess, so it's going to get spooky soon.

[00:43:16] Tyson: Spooky. I'm sure we got a few HR horror stories that we can give up.

[00:43:21] Alexa: Yes. Woo, I'm so excited. I'll catch you on the next one.

[music]

[00:43:27] Tyson: Wait a minute. Before you leave, take some time to leave us a five-star rating. We'd really love your feedback. Also, if you'd to see our lovely faces each week as we're recording these episodes, check us out on our new YouTube channel. Thanks.

[00:43:39] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our interview music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com or follow us at People Problems Pod on all things social. Thanks.

[00:43:55] [END OF AUDIO]





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