Rocket reuse became a normal occurance, probably earlier than the majority of the industry anticipated. Their competitive pricing took the market by storm, changing the equation of sending anything to space. There are less new payloads to launch in 2019, because it takes much longer to contract and build a satellite than to send it to space, and the market hasn't yet adapted to this new mechanic.
Their need for manufacturing new boosters scaled down greatly because of reusability. You cannot reasign all engineers to other projects, some must go.
On top of that SpaceX is moving to new risky projects like the Starship, and they need to cut any fat that poses risk to their long term plans.
Lastly, as few pointed out, it's a great opportunity to get rid of underperforming employees and restructure the company.
These layoffs are a direct result of SpaceX's recent failures to raise money.
Positions are made redundant, not people. Individual performance is irrelevant, if not the company needs to be taken to the cleaners at a tribunal.
What's odd is why SpaceX is cutting staff with the new development underway on the larger rockets and the satellite business. I'm curious about how they're going to increase development while cutting staff. The big aero firms have room for improvement on productivity. But SpaceX has been lean from the start. I wonder how they'll get more out of an already highly productive team. That'd be something to learn from.
From what I understand it was a water tank contactor that did the hopper in Boca Chica... and it will never face lanch/re-entry stresses. That won't replace anyone.
The old BFR design had a large carbon-fiber hull, the new one has a stainless steel hull. Unless I'm missing your point, that's a major piece of the rocket that's no longer made with carbon fiber. (The giant molds that they were building for the BFR hull, for example, are now redundant.)
The stainless steel hull is a viable design (though obviously given how many times it has changed it might not be final).
Scott Manley did a deep dive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVgEKBwE2RM
What I hope is we'll see new startups form out of these folk. What I'd like to see is an ESOP/co-op newspace company bent on similar goals. A lot of these employees have vested stock (or likely will vest soon) that might help capitalize such an effort.
I hope they all join my company, we've got a lot of work they would find interesting. With the retirement rate increasing it's the time to change things for the better. I want their experience at Space X on how to do things faster and better. But perhaps that's wishful thinking...
Because they promised to cut prices by an order of magnitude. Following a promise like that, you can't just offer a 10-15% price reduction.
Plus, if they offered at twice the current price, I don't believe they would be competitive. Part of the reason they offer a low price is that they have still-new, not-fully-tested technology. Clients accept the increased risk, but they expect significant savings in return.
Also, for certain flight configurations, SpaceX's pricing isn't particularly competitive even at its current level.
The oddness diminishes when you look at their open jobs listing , as it looks that they have >300 open positions.
Good on ya.
You're missing that they finished up falcon heavy development last spring, falcon 9 block 5 a little later, and crew dragon is finishing up now. That's a lot of development manpower freed up. To much for starship probably, and I don't know if many of the launcher skills are applicable to satellites.
Thus over time you still have to re-hire people you really need, but get a bigger and bigger amount of people who are just there for the social benefits.
So what can you do to achieve your ambitious goals? Reduce the workforce and try to find a cutting point where you get rid of mostly parasites while keeping your ambitious work bees around.
Usually at the same time of the cut, some of the work bees also get raises and promotions, because then there's some free budget. So if you are an ambitious work bee, then "cutting staff" is actually also good news.
Finding the right cutting point is really the important point and hardest part. For instance you don't want to lay off people who really are performers but for some reason or another (e.g. they just got a baby) they don't perform right now. So at least in the companies I could look inside until now the cutting point is usually well inside the slackers group, so that the people who would recover and then start performing again have a chance to continue.
In the end, even the most tyranical ass-hole leader wants to have as many people as possible work as hard as possible to achieve his goals for him, in exchange for an amount of money that in most cases is peanuts for him. And not all leaders are even tyranical ass-holes.
Can you give an example of how you see slackers being protected by management? I wonder if we have the same definition of the word slacker.
In my experience the people protected by management are not doing much in terms of daily work, but they work a lot to always stay on top when it comes to prestige and taking credit from other people's work. So from my perspective they are working hard, just not to improve the teams results. That's why I call them parasites. They suck out the value of the team for their own gain.
What I call a slacker instead tries to do nothing but reading facebook (or HN) all day. Most of the time these are people who have given up hope to improve their careers for one reason or another. In many cases it is connected to a parasite sucking too much out of them and them not being able to recover self-motivationally.
I bet at least before readign this post your understanding of slacker and my understanding of parasite would be similar, right?
Anecdotally, sales times have MUCH higher attrition rates than this - if they don't they're probably retaining too many underperforming staff.
Maybe in a fairy tale. In the real world, the 20% that were laid off are unlikely to be the 20% that should have been laid off.
Also, given that Falcon 9 is now essentially "done", I expect there probably is a fair bit of internal capacity that's accumulated during its development which can be cut. For example, SpaceX is famous for building a lot of components in house, but perhaps they'll move more to using subcontractors for Falcon 9 parts. That might free up money to spend on R&D. The challenge will be to become leaner and save money in the core launch business without compromising standards. It'll only take a couple of accidents to trash their reputation.
California WARN act applies to any site that has at least 70 employees and lays of at least 50. When this is triggered, the employer needs to provide at least 60 days notice.
Everyday the company is already risking that.
It only takes one. Risk to the company is much bigger when you’re building rockets than your typical software shop, too.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Always negotiate severance up front as part of any job offer, and consider 4-6 months as an absolute minimum for junior or mid-level employees, and at least 12 months of pay for senior employees. Simply turn down job offers when a company won’t offer this and take a longer time to find an offer at one of the (many) companies that will.
Most companies will negotiate severance with you but you have to ask and make it clear that in-writing severance details to serve as protection against unexpected unemployment from layoffs is a dealbreaker for you.
Most candidates won’t negotiate this, which is why most companies don’t have to offer it except to the few special case people that require it.
If we all, as candidates, unilaterally make it impossible to hire us without adequate severance, we’ll all be better off.. instead of just the minority of candidates who put forward the effort to negotiate it and aren’t afraid to turn down offers that don’t include defined severance agreements.
Have you put this into practice? It'd be a nice contingency to have in place but seems like it'd put a damper on the tone of the negotiations ("I'm already thinking about being let go and want to make it really expensive for you to do so").
But I gained a lot of experience regarding how to negotiate it and talk about it, and ultimately found that most companies are perfectly happy to negotiate it as part of the job offer.
On topic, probably just cutting out the fat (I'm sure most companies can fire 10% and a month later very few would notice the difference). But then, why not move them to R&D? I doubt SpaceX has cash problems to fire (more or less) essential workers.
10% usually means 10% to 40% of company productivity is affected shortterm. 10% leave, 5% wanted to get fired but didn't, 25% will think they are next and change how they work (some positive some negative).
It is usually a signal for top performers to start moving on. In this case the story is spacex is growing conflicts with the layoffs.
Moral is low and the office has been pretty damn quiet. Meanwhile we just raises earnings forecast today...
I have the quarterly cycle. I find it extremely bad for both the society and companies when nobody takes the long term view.
"Early Friday, GM said 2018 EPS will exceed previous guidance of $5.80-$6.20. It also expects to surpass an earlier view of adjusted automotive free cash flow of $4 billion."
In certain circumstances, once the means of production are created [most of] the workers are no longer needed, but the means being privately held (by a narrow group of owners) means they alone can benefit going forward.
You can make a feast together and share it; or you can make a feast together, kick out most of the helpers and gorge yourself.
Capitalism says the second option is better because you get to have more.
No, capital expanding has social benefits in reducing consumer prices, which increases purchasing power.
In a system with healthy incentives, we might expect Option 1 to be the sensible capitalist equilibrium, because capital needs to be maintained and the builders/maintainers become the same people.
Don't forget that, in theory, the workers can become capitalists themselves if they aren't getting a good share of the benefits. In my view usually when they don't it is because of government interference (eg, the pre-Uber situation in taxis, or how regulation tends to entrench existing players).
As an example, someone who switches from working as a landscaper to running a landscaping business has switched from a worker role to a capitalist role — even though they likely spent less money doing so than a software engineer worker owns. Being a “capitalist” is defined by capitalizing ventures, not the mere volume of capital.
I would argue that the reason society has become so disequitable is that we’ve made it difficult to transition between worker and small capitalist — that is to say, that we’ve undermined small and lifestyle businesses.
Down stream impact of how to cope with that loss is another factor. Fire your book keeper and does your remaining engineering team have to spend 10% of their time doing invoices and reconciling bank accounts?
That would still leave them with many thousands of redundant employees. Falcon 9 is done and the production is dropping due to reusability. Recently, they had a 3rd re-flight of the same core, which, coupled with the slowdown of the global launch market, means that in the next years they will need to produce a third to a half of the number of cores they used in 2017. The same for Merlin engines.
They basically fulfilled their mission and drastically reduced the cost of getting into orbit - which for the space industry is dominated by labor costs. Without a greatly increased demand, they can't justify keeping those people around.
And they can't roll all the Falcon production workforce towards BFR, Raptor and Starlink since those are still strongly R&D dominated projects and the skill set is incompatible. At the same time, they have hundreds of engineering positions open for those projects.
I would have put them on other Musk projects to keep them from going to the competition. SpaceX doesn't have a monopoly on low cost launch. The next place to figure out how to 3d print a tungsten titanium copper nickel chromium iron one piece rocket nozzle will also have that advantage.
He also said that he joined Tesla to help jump start the electric car revolution by a decade and his total asset liquidation in 2008 to support Tesla and SpaceX seems to support that this attitude is not just some PR move, but who knows for sure.
It's pretty clear Musk sees his for profit endeavors - Tesla, commercial and government launches, Starlink - as cash cows for a long term investment into something no one in the market is yet ready to finance. Until that changes and Mars becomes an interesting commercial proposition, Musk will ruthlessly pursue his business and leave nothing on the table, precisely to acquire the funds to bootstrap his vision.
The same thing is used to train a talent pool in a vendor eco system, hire contractors to build demo apps and integrations, but cycle them out after every project. All those people can now put Tech X on their resume.
SpaceX definitely transformed the entire endeavor of space travel.
Musk does seem to believe in occasionally "trimming the fat" when the numbers get tight. SpaceX did this exact thing in 2014, and Tesla has done it recently (and is now back over the headcount post-layoffs).
In large engineering organisations, laying off 10% makes no difference at all on anything apart from the ego of managers whose teams shrink.
On the topic, wasn't Jack Welsh/GE that popularised the idea of firing the bottom 10% every single year? Not saying that this is necessarily a good idea but that shows the amount of slack in large organisations.
Edit: In any big corp, there are usually many employees who act as "barriers" to others. Either because they feel secure enough in their job and don't really care about performing, or because they lost sight of why things are being done, and are focusing on bureaucracy and "processes" for the sake of those two things.
If the decimations have been going on for some time, I'd expect them to reliably hit low-performers, but only because the obvious low performers were hired as sacrificial lambs in the first place, which puts the whole exercise deep in "cobra effect" territory.
This all goes up for grabs when the treaties expire in a few decades and it's presently an environmental issue to try and get them resigned rather than have an oil rush there.
If they lay off 10% of their workforce, how do they ensure that their trade secrets are kept safe? Lay off only low-risk employees? NDAs? It was my understanding that the degree to which those can be enforced in California is limited.
SpaceX doesn’t hire non-US citizens due to how hard it is to get the security clearance needed for them if they try to go to China they will likely get caught maybe not everyone, but enough to prevent any real knowledge transfer and more importantly the first one that will get caught is going to be made an example for the rest.
It’s harder but they can work on ITAR information too.
However the point stands that those people are vetted and tracked. How effective that is once they are in China or Russia etc I don’t know.
I’m sure some special cases do happen but the bulk of their workforce is US citizens.
And again you assume that they won’t get caught going to Russia or China to begin with or that they won’t be tasked with assets in country once they arrive.
We’re talking about 500-600 people here out of them it’s not clear how many would be really critical for technology transfer prevention but say it’s 25% so what we have is about 150 people or so that need to be tracked say 10% out of those will be contacted by a foreign entity that’s what 15 people?
It’s really not hard to track them at that point.
In fact I would guarantee you that this likely will be covered by their exit interview, they might even get a “scary” federal agent explaining them the do’s and don’ts and likely many of them already know them.
And again this isn’t a new thing, NASA and the defense industry have fired people before it’s jot like it’s the first time that 500 people with security clearances lose jobs.
But then a job is nothing compared to what China can pay them for a thumb-drive full of Tesla's secrets so even highly paid employees might do it for money. (Tesla is opening a factory in China though...so they might be ready to have some secrets stolen /priced in)
California limits non-compete agreements and anti-moonlighting clauses however, as far as I know, does not limit NDAs.
In typical NDA you specify a defined period of time to avoid the risk of a court declaring that an NDA is too restrictive. This should not apply to trade secret.
Trade secret lasts indefinitely even after NDA time period expires if all other conditions for trade secret are met.
There are some cases where NDA expiring invalidates trade secret but it's mostly due to specific circumstances or badly formed NDA. You should inform the employees when they are dealing with a trade secret and use all means to keep them secret.
1) Maybe brought on themselves: 'hey, design/build the thing, then fire those who designed it' type thing, which definitely happens. It happens to companies in a crunch, or those who just put the outcome ahead of everything else.
2) A decimation: let's use this as an opportunity to drop anyone we feel is not cutting it - and teams that we created/hired we realize we don't want/need.
3) General organizational shakeup.
4) A true and real opex cutback ahead of anticipated future needs.
The thing is - outside of human terms - it's a big cut but it might be highly rational.
'Pruning' I think is a essential aspect of any healthy organization, forcing entities to rethink, to shake them out of their settled positions, getting rid of organizational cruft.
Of course, there are humans behind every decision which makes it quite fundamentally something else.
But if you could imagine they were 'robots', as if to remove any issues of compassion and concern for externalized outcomes, and this were simply a simple dispassionate re-org ... then you can see where the economics might be pointing.
We also don't know the terms of the layoff: maybe some of them are voluntary. Maybe the payouts are huge. Sometimes these things work out well for a lot of those involved, obviously it doesn't for others.
Edit to add: I understand you were using this as a thought experiment. Sorry for knee-jerking.
If you're employing people to do something robots can't, you need to understand that the way to treat them is also different. This goes double if your mission is to improve the world instead of outright capitalism.
And if you're employing people to do what robots can do, you can treat them as robots?
Could also be that they consider themselves “done” with major design phases of the heavy, while the people mover stuff is too far away to engage mid level designers with effectively?
That’s OK if you hire contractors and pay them premium contractors rates. It’s sleazy and underhanded to make people believe that job security is part of the “package” then bait-and-switch.
The best way to do a layoff is to cut once, cut deep, and do it quickly. And of course to not be an asshole and offer severance compensation to folks who were laid off.
No it's not and you're presenting a false dichotomy. They made the decision who to fire (to "cut once"). The question is email vs. having managers meet with their impacted direct reports which can definitely and is regularly done inside of one day.
Telling people "you may or may not still have a job, you'll get an email within the next 72 hours" is ridiculous. So what happens if it's Monday morning and I didn't get an email? Am I still employed? What if there was a glitch? What if I show up and I'm escorted out?
This screams of mismanagement.
To do this you would have to already have finalized this list of people to let go. Specifying that list beyond rough department targets to actual individuals probably requires involvement of many managers and might be what happened in those 72 hours, but I'd love to hear from someone with actual experience. Could larger organizations actually prepare that without leaking the layoff anyway?
You still have a job.
>Am I still employed?
>What if there was a glitch?
This seems rare, and it seems like people would double check to ensure this doesn't happen (and if it did, to re-send an email).
>What if I show up and I'm escorted out?
Sounds awkward at worst, but now you know.
Play that out a bit. Is the notification a scheduled slack message or email for those terminated? Or do you want each employee being let go to be notified in a face-to-face conversation with their manager and where the details of financial arrangements, healthcare continuity, and other aspects are prepared and with a chance for the employee to ask questions, and for HR and leadership to assess if they appear in a condition to commute home and offer other transport or acute support arrangements if needed?
I think the latter is more appropriate, but a series of those things takes time to execute [longer if managers or layers of managers are being eliminated], and the time between when the first such meeting ends and the last such meeting begins, people are left wondering.
But that is just my preference, others would prefer something else. Everyone though would prefer not to get laid off. Unfortunate for all involved.
I was a teenager in the 90s and my mother worked for IBM. My parents were divorced and I lived with mom. She came home every day exhausted and scared, not knowing when the axe would drop. It went on for years. No one knew the logic of which departments were next; solid performance reviews didn't protect you, seniority, skillet, being management: nothing made you safe. Everyone we knew went to work not knowing if they would make it to lunch.
It was horrible. I'm sure everyone would have much rather the SpaceX method than months or years of agonizing waiting.
If indeed everyone was told “check your email over the weekend to find out if you’re laid off or not”, that’s terrible. Tell people who are being laid off that they are being laid off, tell people who are not being laid off why there are layoffs and that they’re not a part of it, but don’t keep everyone in the dark - even if it’s “just” for a day or two.
And if it turns our I wasn't I'd like to know that, too, so I don't lose focus of whatever it is I'm doing.
To subject ALL your employees to the 50/50 prospect that they will have a job come next working day is tantamount to playing Russian Roulette with them using a gun with a 2 bullet chamber - one loaded. The psychological toll even on the 'survivors' will be brutal.
Have you ever sit across an HR person saying all the right things and putting an as empathic as possible face on, and telling you "it's not you, it's us"?
Personally I'd prefer the email, as long as, I have a contact to talk to for the next steps.
Also fire by email doesn't mean there isn't a definitive exit path or no financial support. The article itself states the email claimed a minimum of 8 weeks of pay for those laid off.
Also it's 90/10 not 50/50. If you were firing 50% of your workforce there is no avoiding a "brutal" psychological toll for the remaining.
If 90/10 from the company perspective. From the employee perspective, it sounds like everyone at SpaceX went home on Friday wondering "Do I have a job come Monday?". To each and every one of them, the prospect of having a job versus NOT having a job would have been 50/50 as they had no insight into the decision making process for the layoffs.
Sure, for an employee who may have known they had made a lot of mistakes or were obviously underperforming etc., their knowledge that the chances of them being fired could have been skewed higher, but I am willing to bet that there will be many people thinking "My work is mission critical and I am a hard worker, I think I will be safe..." who will still unexpectedly get the pink slip on Monday.
Space X seems to still trust everyone fully, most companies dont.
Just send me an email with all the options and terms and contact information for HR. If I need clarification, let me be the one that seeks HR out.
Also, HR exists to protect the company, not to be your friend. There aren't there to offer compassion. That's not how business or HR works.
But maybe it's because I'm from the younger generation who grew up with email, text, IM, etc. I can see older generations being used to and preferring face-to-face interaction.
What happens is you find out your department or wing of the building is next. You continue to try to do your job, meanwhile your manager starts walking towards you and stops at a couple cubicles down from you. You breath a slight sigh of relief. Meanwhile you and everyone else is prairie-dogging as others in the office start getting called out, and the VP strolls by and yells at everyone to "have some respect and quit gawking, get back to work". So now you keep your head down, and eventually get a tap on your shoulder from your manager.
You can't help but fight back tears, as you get lead to the conference room where an HR drone explains the package, benefits, and next steps. You are handed a box, escorted back to your desk, and put your personal belongings into the box while being watched like a hawk to make sure you don't do anything stupid. Some things you aren't allowed to put in the box until they are thoroughly examined. A forever half finished document is on your monitor. An email you were about to reply to is still visible, and will go unanswered. Your laptop is shut down, your accounts already locked.
Now you start on the walk of shame carrying the lonely box out to your car, start driving, and then your family wonders why you are home from work so early. But the look on your face tells the whole story, with the look of concern on your wife's face and the look of horror from the kids (of course, being kids, they start asking questions about how this will affect them). "Hey, kids, looks like we will be taking that camping trip a bit early, got some saved up for it, will figure out tomorrow when it gets here. It will be alright."
Also they fired 10% so there was a 9/10 chance they would be keeping there jobs.
No matter the method its done, everyone emerges from a layoff knowing that they are just a line item on a spreadsheet. Its unfortunate but true.
The big lesson I try to pass on to everyone. Don't ever assume you will have a job next week. Be polite to any headhunters, assuming they are the professional kind, keep your resume up to date, network like crazy, have a few side project plans, don't be afraid of small jobs on the side, and most importantly keep a 3 - 6 month emergency fund. That fund doesn't have to be what you make in 6 months, but at least what your bare bones expenses are (mortgage, utility bills, minimum credit card payments), and try to keep your have-to recurring monthly expenses lower (mortgage / car payments, etc). That doesn't mean you can't spend on extra stuff, just make sure you can cancel them at any time.
You are most likely an at-will employee. You or the employer can terminate the relationship immediately giving any reason or no reason. Just have money saved up and don't be afraid to quit without notice to something better if you need to.
We don't know the content of the all hands, they could have outlined the support plan there.
None of which is available to the employee in a 'fire by email' scenario.
I prefer email over HR walking past all the cubicles praying they won't stop at mine.
Having gone through many layoffs, there is no way to do it where it doesn’t suck for everyone involved (those that stay or go).
However, doing it in a way that show management understands the gravity of the situation goes really far in reducing how unpleasant the experience is.
On top of that, there are security concerns with hanging onto employees and letting them have access to company property during a time that they know they will be fired. Especially for a company that performs services for top secret government projects.
The easiest (though you won't catch me arguing that it's the best) way is to hold a staff meeting, and then let corp IT churn through the 6000 person list over the weekend and remove access.
SELECT * FROM employees ORDER BY last_performance_review_score LIMIT 600;
On top of the lame SQL reference this diminishes the true severity of firing 600 real people. We have no reason to think the firing was this nonchalant. This diminishes the work and humanity of everyone involved.
It appears to be a weak reference to stack ranking.
Do you have any reason to believe this is probdbly how they identified people to be let go?
How is it 50/50? It is 10%.
However, it sounded like every employee at SpaceX went home on Friday thinking "Do I still have a job come Monday??". Because no other information seemed to have been imparted as to the selection criteria for the redundancies, every single employee wouldn't have known if they would keep their jobs or not.
Unless they knew they were blatant underperformers or had lots of black marks against them on file, their chances of keeping their jobs was the same as the chance they could be on the 'hit list' for redundancy. 50/50. I am willing to bet that even employees who thought their job was as safe as houses and that they were considered good employees would find them self on the 'let go' list.
2. Schedule the "Town Hall" meeting for an important announcement at 4pm on Friday
3. Start the meeting by talking about the company, vision, challenges, recent wins, etc. [Insert a positive announcement here]
4. Tell everyone at 4:20pm that the company will be laying off 10% of the workforce, explain why, etc.
5. At 4:25pm, as you prepare to wrap up the town hall meeting, tell everyone that they will receive an e-mail either letting them know they will be laid off or that they will remain with the company. Thank everyone for their hard work for the company.
6. [Insert another brief, unrelated positive announcement about the company].
7. At 4:31pm, as people walk out the door, have IT send all of the e-mails at the exact same time to everyone who's being laid off. Review the list of employees compulsively beforehand to ensure no mistakes are being made.
8. Together with step 7 send another e-mail to everyone who remains with the company ensuring them they are not being laid off.
Big news like that takes a while to process. I believe I've read before that if you are firing someone, you are supposed to tell them and then not say anything else until they do. That seems unnecessarily cruel to the person getting the bad news since it puts them very emotionally on the spot.
But I've never been on either side of that, so who knows.
I don’t blame him, as our employer has walked out 25 year employees with no notice.
The end result is the same and either way it sucks but certainly doing it in face to face seems to generally be considered more personal and perhaps less cowardly.
We don’t know the details, employees may have known before walking out the door.
Obviously. It's still a shitty thing to do.
> We don’t know the details, employees may have known before walking out the door.
Huh? We have multiple SpaceX employees on Reddit saying they were told to go home and wait for emails. Some took hours, some are still waiting.
ANYTHING is better than telling the entire company "go home and compulsively refresh your email all weekend to see if you get to come to work Monday"
It would have been far more practical to quietly go into each department "Jane, Jack come with us we're putting together a team" "Sally, Quan come with us we're putting together a team" take them all to an area "we're very sorry but we have to lay you off, we have counselors that we can refer to you if you need to talk to someone. We've also got some headhunters we can recommend. It's not personal, we just have to cut costs, you'll find that your company accounts were deactivated at the start of this meeting. We will be more than happy to ask your supervisors to write you letters of recommendation if you'd like, just put on this form where you'd like them sent for your records. Please think of anything that you are in the middle of and type it out in this word doc on the laptops over there".
Not "Hey everybody, go home and wait to see if you get to come in Monday".
Start the process with a lie finish it with asking them to do some work?!
You've just been sucker punched with new team yay! wait not really you’re fired! Now please finish that document you were writing and GTFO.
What? Please think more carefully than this if you are ever in the position of influencing layoffs or delivering the news.
The right way to lay off varies culture to culture.
I worked on a trading desk. 1:1 personal lay-offs followed by security cleaning out your desk seemed unnecessarily cruel. An e-mail out of hours—and an offer to schedule a phone call—seemed far more gentle. In other cultures, the human touch matters. Given SpaceX’s results-oriented culture, their approach seems appropriate. The goal was to prevent those not getting laid off from seeking new jobs while keeping those being laid off from panicking those staying. Letting everyone go home, finish their after-work schenanigans, and then—before recruiters have a chance to nip—deliver the news is a good balance for the relevant parameters.
FAR less 'cruel' to give them an opportunity to plan their exit and give them the psychological space to get used to the fact.
EDIT: In light of the 'read the article' responses and downvotes, I wanted to clarify that my comment here is directly addressing the question "what is a less cruel way of laying people off" against the purported scenario above of people being told on Friday to go home and check their emails to see if they still have a job on Monday.
So SpaceX is giving employees two months to focus their full efforts on finding their next job. This seems less cruel than telling them they will lose their jobs and then expecting them to keep working.
Not requiring them to do any work whatsoever for that time is beneficence.
My response above was to do with the fact that employees who were NOT terminated were also subjected to the psychological trauma of spending the weekend guessing whether they had a job come Monday. Not the best way to keep morale high.
Acting like people are just gonna sit around and mope is not only highly disingenuous but is also a good way to fuck over the people having to fill in the knowledge gaps.
Better just to cut ties as quickly as possible. They were given 8 weeks of severance and if they are really friends with the people, they can call them on the way home. They are not banned from communicating with their past co-workers.
I know it sounds harsh but there is no nice way to find out you were fired. This way mitigates the companies risk, provides decent (not great) severance for the employees and time to find a new job while being paid.
The only winners in a layoff are the shareholders.
So I suppose you can consider me highly skeptical when a commercial company makes the excuse that they're doing it for security reasons. Because to me, that sounds like pure bullshit designed to cover for shitty practices.
I honestly hope you never work in HR because your sort of attitude is genuinely disastrous to this industry. Acting like treating your employees with respect is a 'risk' is terrible.
Also, if I were laid off, why would I want to continue working for them for two more weeks? I don’t care about the company’s success at that point. I’m already getting two months severance; it’s much better to focus entirely on finding a job as quickly as possible. Half a month’s paycheck is not worth the emotional pain of seeing your non-laid-off colleagues continue to live their normal life, but act all awkward around you.
In fact, I’ll go ahead and say: I think your attitude that requests laid-off employees to keep working is disastrous. Nothing about making them come to work is respectful or beneficial to them.
As for the logistics, each member of staff can be talked to by their immediate manager, making it scale easily. Matter of fact, this once happened to me, and my boss was as clearly upset to let me go as I was to leave. But everyone being let go was informed and given their notice as soon as the workday started, so there was no uncertainty or delay.
Employment is a business deal. If you consider your relationship with your manager to be personal then you have an unhealthy view of your job.
How would you do it?
To drag it out another way would leave the company and its operations highly exposed to those individuals leaving in my opinion.
It was almost as savage, they went around the office of 70-80 people and grabbed some people at what seemed like random, took them in one door of the conference room and asked them what personal belongings they needed immediately, got those items and had corporate security see them off the property with their severance information. At least that wasn't "go home and worry all weekend" though.
Great way to sabotage company-wide morale SpaceX.
Seriously, can modern CEOs actually grow a pair and actually face their employees rather than hide behind tech?