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Whatever the reasons for the workforce reduction, this way of doing it is just unnecessarily cruel.





I disagree. What would be more cruel is to keep people guessing for weeks, or to do several smaller layoffs. That's how it's usually done, and it utterly decimates the morale, and causes the best people to leave.

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.


> I disagree. What would be more cruel is to keep people guessing for weeks, or to do several smaller layoffs. That's how it's usually done

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.


I've been at a company where the 1-1 firings occurred over a morning. I was fortunate to keep my job, but I can tell you it was a pretty awful day for those staying (obviously not as bad as for those leaving :(). There's no good way to do this, layoffs of this sort are awful. I actually am not sure this is better or worse. You have a horrible Friday night, with untold stress, but at least you're not sweating at your desk with people being walked in to the back to be canned, afraid of the mere mention of your name or a tap on the shoulder.

There is a right way to do this. You announce it to the staff and at the same time you let those affected know. It's best to do this at the end of the 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.


Can't you email those not listed for termination, at the same time, and tell them they still have their job.

> You announce it to the staff and at the same time you let those affected know.

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?


>So what happens if it's Monday morning and I didn't get an email?

You still have a job.

>Am I still employed?

Yes.

>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.


As if the slow trod all day long to go through one-by-one doesn’t have its own consequences.

You are correct about the false dichotomy, but the correct way of doing it would have been to let everyone know who was being let go before they made the announcement. No reason to leave people wondering for any period of time.

> No reason to leave people wondering for any period of time.

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.


You can still tell everyone immediately at the end of the day. Or just send the email on the weekend. You don't have to say you're going to do it first and keep everyone worried.

There is no great way to do it. If they told people in person, people would frame it as being humiliated and then forced to walk through the office with everyone knowing. If they did not warn people, they would complain about being blind sided. Layoffs are a terrible thing to go through and all things considered I don't think this was a bad way at all. No one had to do the walk of shame, everyone had a day or so to prepare themselves for it.

But that is just my preference, others would prefer something else. Everyone though would prefer not to get laid off. Unfortunate for all involved.


You can't when you're dealing with 6000+ people. Likely even the managers didn't know so as to avoid feeding the rumor mill. They'll now need to make up their minds about their reports whom they wouldn't mind losing.

Are you saying top executives selected 10% out of all 6000 employees without consulting their direct managers who to fire? That would be a random 10% sample at best. Obviously managers would be involved in deciding who is worth to keep or not.

No, I'm suggesting that managers might have been made to select them on the spot. I worked as a manager. This is usually a very easy question to answer unless your team consists entirely of rockstars, which I haven't experienced in practice. As a manager you are acutely aware of who's producing and who's dragging their feet.

No way are the managers going to all stay late on Friday and figure out who to fire on Saturday. Those discussions have already happened, and they know who is being let go.

This is Musk we're talking about here. He might have decided this over lunch a few hours before the announcement.

I agree with you. Uncertainty and fear brings a horrible toll on the employees.

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.


I worked at a company that did layoffs. They basically sequestered everyone in there work areas, killed Internet access so people couldn't go online (pre smartphones), and walked people out one at a time. It was pretry lame.

You want to minimize the time where employees who are not being laid off are wondering “am I being laid off?”. Ideally you want that time to be 0, because it can wreck havoc on morale and those 24 or 48 hours of doubt can be enough to push people who are not getting laid off to reach out to their network, recruiters, etc. Now you’re losing high performers.

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.


Totally agree, if I was laid off I'd like to know right away so I could start job hunting right away.

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.


Agreed. There is no way to do layoffs that doesn't suck and doesn't harm morale. This avoids some of the worst of it and also keeps it somewhat private.

What's less cruel? Face to face meetings? Layoffs suck, how is this particularly egregious?

Seriously, if you cannot see that "fire by email" is far more impersonal and disconnecting than compassionately meeting with the employee 1 on 1 and giving them a definitive exit path along with the financial support to do so, then please do not ever work in HR or be responsible for employing people in the future.

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.


What do you think goes through people's head as their managers walk to them "can we talk" during a staff reduction exercise?

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.


"Fire by email" isn't a bad option for layoffs in the double digit percentage as long as the delay between notification and sending the emails is low. Meeting 1 on 1 only works in non targeted low scale layoffs, anywhere else and it just creates hysteria.

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.


Elon Musk is sticking to the Roman definition of decimation

The roman definition involved beating 1 in 10 to death by the "coworkers", so no, I don't think 8 weeks of severance and helping them write resumes plus get new jobs elsewhere is a very good definition of decimation.

In percentage yes, but not in the manner of choosing the affected. Or at least one would hope it’s not every tenth person regardless of role, contribution, etc.

I didn't want to like this, but all respect to you for the etymological accuracy and black humour here.

> Also it's 90/10 not 50/50.

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.


Psychologically, if you don't know if you're affected yet the odds feel like 50/50.

As someone who has been laid off, I would have much preferred an email over the awkward 1 on 1 meeting I got with my boss instead. I've been looking at other jobs already and just wanted to move on with my life. Instead I got stuck in a long conversation which was basically him just showering me with pity that I didn't want but had to graciously accept.

I can see why an email is the better option, seems much cleaner and less awkward. I have seen people go to meetings and while they are in the layoff meeting all there access is cut off - so its purely done to lure the poor employee away to avoid any odd mails afterwards. Pretty lame and distrusting honestly.

Space X seems to still trust everyone fully, most companies dont.


That's overly dramatic. I'd prefer an impersonal email over an uncomfortable and humiliating meeting with an HR employee where emotions are running high. What's to be gained by being laid off in person - other than discomfort on both sides and humiliation by laid-off employee?

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.


If they're at all afraid of retribution via your computer, notification via email would be impossible - you can only get the email if you still have computer access.

The 1x1 scenario still involves calling the laid off employees into meetings in sequence while everyone else stresses out wondering if they are next. Layoffs are brutal no matter what you do.

Not only that, but as someone who has been through this in the past...

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."


My only experience with layoffs is when one morning we suddenly had a departmental meeting, and it turned out none of us was being laid off, but our manager of over a decade was, and he was already gone, no chance to say goodbye.

Great description - horrendous thing to go through.

This is true. Nothing like deer in the headlights when the person is singled out for the meeting. It’s a terrible thing.

It all depends on the person, personally I would prefer the spacex method as I don't have to put on a brave face for someone who is firing me. I also don't have to walk through the office knowing everyone is feeling sorry for me. The warning also gives me a day or so to brace myself in private at my home for the email so I am not caught completely off guard.

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.


"SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches." - They are supporting them through it. I think this is as bad as any other way of lay off. Those 1:1s are farcical anyway. Only thing that could be better is to just send the mail only to the laid off employees.

Again, having gone through this a decade ago, that assistance gets outsourced to a company that specializes in it. Effectively it feels like you are attending a community college class on "how to find a job". It's not like they are going to call up a bunch of employers and try to match you to another position somewhere, you are still going to have to do a lot of legg work (home work) yourself. In my case it was somewhat beneficial, although the advice they had for me on my resume got totally shredded by the recruiters I worked with. At least it got me out of the house for 2 hours a day for the next 5 days.

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.


The 6 month emergency fund is good for another reason, as f-you fund: in case working conditions get bad, you know you can just walk away. Somehow the knowing is enough, you never have to mention it, the confidence somehow shines through if you have a difficult chat with your manager.

Lol it's not that big a deal if you lose a job when you have around 12months living expenses saved up. So that goes twords living expenses, then you get unemployment at 60% of income. People need to move on, and stop being so emotionally invested in their work.

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.


Personally I would prefer to be fired by email versus an 1 on 1 face to face meeting. The financial support and other helpful tools seem like an orthogonal issue.

No offense but I completely disagree. I would prefer an email over a 1v1 conversation. The employee is not getting fired, they are getting laid off. There are no conversations that need to be had beyond severance discussions.

I've been laid off face to face, it sucks. How is SpaceX supposed to lay off 600 people in 1 on 1 meetings and what significant difference does that even make?

We don't know the content of the all hands, they could have outlined the support plan there.


Why? People are hired by email all of the time. Full time positions are more transactional now than ever before. There is no real loyalty either way.

You skipped right over the hiring facts of: the face to face interviews, consideration, and most importantly, the option for the (potential) employee to exercise their choice of whether to take the job or not.

None of which is available to the employee in a 'fire by email' scenario.


you are assuming you know the content of the email. As others have said, severance and support programs could be outlined in the email.

I prefer email over HR walking past all the cubicles praying they won't stop at mine.


Because firing is a much different experience for employees than being hired? That should be obvious.

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.


I've been laid off twice, once in a one-on-one meeting with a manager, and once via an email. The email was much preferable. (Both were in short-term positions, so not really a fair comparison)

The logistics of laying off 6000 people makes it very difficult to hold one on ones. Assuming 30 minutes per person, 8 hours in a day to hold meetings and 5 day work week, that's 75 person-weeks (!) just to hold one on ones.

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.


They're laying off 10% of 6,000 employees. Not everyone.

Firing via SQL query or an email filter. Is this what we have come to?

SELECT * FROM employees ORDER BY last_performance_review_score LIMIT 600;


This is acctually probably how they do it.

Typically higher scores are better. If SpaceX used this query they would fire their 600 best employees. Or they use bad column names.

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?


Default ordering would be ascending order, smallest to largest. You would need to specify DESC to order the higher numbers first.

Yep, too late and too many beers to be commenting on HN.

I did find it amusing, as the first thing I did seeing the SQL was also run it through my head.

> 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 Roulet

How is it 50/50? It is 10%.


As I mentioned above - it is 10% from the company perspective.

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.


A business has no responsibility to financially support an ex-employee. If it does so, it's a gift, not something that should be expected.

And employees have no responsibility to stay at a company that treats ex-employees like shit. Actions like these are a great way to demoralize your workforce and entice higher-level employees to jump ship.

In many jurisdictions, such a responsibility does exist as mandated by law.

Not in this country.

I imagine it's possible that dehumanizing layoffs like this will put SpaceX at a competitive disadvantage, its lunch eventually getting eaten by companies who do care enough about their employees to interact with them in person regarding the business of the company and their place in it, good or bad. This would come out in increased efficiencies due to no surprise-axed-or-not email always threatening to land in their inboxes.

What is dehumanizing? Either way is awful, but companies have to make tough decisions and communicating those is not easy. Many people prefer an email over awkward semi-genuine HR discussions. Coworkers and manager will reach out afterwards in private and in person if they really cared about the connection.

It's dehumanizing in the strictest sense of the word: communicated by text on a screen rather than in-person.

That’s a superficial focus on human interaction that ignores he reality of business dealings.

You're at the "contradiction" level of PG's pyramid of disagreement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Graham_(programmer)#Graha...

1. Prepare the e-mails in advance for each employee that

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.


Turn this into a SaaS.

Last time I experienced something like this there was a company wide meeting for an hour and a half where everything was explained. When we went back to our desks, there were pink slips waiting for anyone who got let go. No waiting or wondering, no dragged out second guessing.

My preferred method if this were to happen to me would be: 1. Receive notification not in person 2. Have the option of discussing with my manager in person after I had a chance to process it.

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.


Yes face to face with the person who made the decision (presumably your direct or skip manager) not the random hr person is “less cruel” (really it’s about integrity).

Firing by email is just not a professional way to do things. Imagine if someone resigned by email.

I worked with someone who did. He came in at 6 AM, sent off an email, and left at 6:15.

I don’t blame him, as our employer has walked out 25 year employees with no notice.


My employer has done the same. They have done more than one round of layoffs, and it's always the same - you get called into a 1-on-1 meeting, and you never return to your desk.

Business runs on email. I would prefer to be laid off via email.

How else would you resign then writing an email? Are you writing a piece of paper? Written seems much more professional then just verbal, leaves no doubts. Sure, you can tell before in person but email seems the best way.

Layoff by email is like breakup via text message.

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.


Romantic, business and employment relationships aren't the same thing. At all. Do you collect resumes from your dates?

Anecdote from friends' parents, this is done in China for some romantic relationships.

Its kinda the same thing, what you put on your online profile at dating site work like a resume.

If you've got to do it by email, how about "go back to your desks and check your work email" instead of "go home and stew about it for a while"? Extending the delay is sadistic.

And your usage of sadistic is hyperbolic.

We don’t know the details, employees may have known before walking out the door.


> And your usage of sadistic is hyperbolic.

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.


Source: reddit is not compelling, ever.

>What's less cruel?

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"


Do we know that is necessary? Why would it take all weekend for 700 emails to be delivered? Why not send an email to all the remaining employees to reassure them they are not being fired? That may have happened, we don't know.

From the reddit comment there's no indication they said when they will be sending the email.

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".


That sounds terrible.

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.


Notifying your employer, that's giving you 2 months of severance, what you're in the middle of doing as to prevent everyone else on your team from having the nightmare of trying to figure out what you were doing as well as providing you with access to counseling and a job placement service is terrible?

From what I've read about Musk, doing it this way is part of his management style. People's feelings come second to getting things done efficiently. Well, efficiently as he sees it.

There is nothing efficient about ruining people's weekend while they are being fired. This could have been done by sending out the emails at the end of Friday without making people nervous and worried over weekend.

+1 good way to have the remaining 90% to think long and hard about working some place else.

> this way of doing it is just unnecessarily cruel

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.


what is the less cruel way to lay off 10% of your workforce

Tell the affected ones immediately. Don't tell the other 90% that they're potentially getting fired tomorrow. Treat people with respect and be transparent when you hold power over them.

Well, rather than a "Don't come Monday" email on a weekend, which effectively gives them 0 working days notice, giving those employees say, 2 weeks notice that they will be terminated at least gives them a chance to re-train for another position or get their resumes together to try and find another job while still getting an income to pay for rent, food etc.

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.


From the article: "SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches."

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.


That need not just be charity on SpaceX's part. The circumstances of the layoff sounds like it would trigger the WARN act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_Adjustment_and_Retraini.... If so, 60 days notice is a legal requirement, not beneficence on SpaceX's part.

The notice is a requirement.

Not requiring them to do any work whatsoever for that time is beneficence.


That is FAR less cruel, and more in line with how most companies handle a genuine redundancy.

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.


This rarely happens because of liability and security. It’s pretty common to be walked out by security after packing up your stuff when you are laid off.

Heh, a hedge fund I worked at didn't even let you back to your desk. You were immediately escorted out by security. "Your personal effects at your desk will be mailed to you." Suppose there were exceptions to say grab keys, wallet or a purse, but you weren't packing up everything.

AKA the first 10 minutes of the movie Margin Call.

They already get 8 weeks severance. Keeping them around for 2 weeks to mope doesn’t help anything.

Except keeping people around for two weeks longer allows people to say goodbye to their coworkers and people they might've worked with for years. It allows them to impart their knowledge to anyone else that might need it, document things that need documenting and more importantly: It means the company treats you like an actual human being.

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.


They launch giant multi million dollar missiles into space. Allowing an employee that knows they are terminated and is most likely distracted to continue working on a project like that is not worth the risk. If someone was genuinely upset and wanted revenge, a good portion of them are literally rocket scientists, they could probably figure out a way to do it if given a couple weeks.

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.


I used to work for a government contractor and during lay-offs they rarely did the whole plug-pulling nonsense on their employees when they needed to restructure or lay people off.

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.


It's easy for me to take a pragmatic approach from the outside looking in but if I was the one getting laid off, I would probably share your sentiment.

I don't know why companies do the "escort you out by security" thing, but I doubt there is a great deal of logic to it, as I have observed that even at a given company, some people are treated like that and some aren't, and there's no sense to it. It's never happened to me, but a former boss of mine was laid off that way, and nobody admitted to knowing why. Yes, he could have destroyed a lot if he'd wanted to, but so could a less senior employee.

It's also a good way to get a disgruntled worker who still has system privileges or physical access to cause all kinds of havoc. Not worth the risk, even if you think it's more humane.

Not worth the risk? Disgruntled workers only generally arise if you treat your employees like shit and do shit like say, telling employees 'hey you might not have a job on monday but we're not telling you! we're gonna give you a weekend to think about your possible jobloss'.

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.


I agree the mail thing is not great... but you’re saying that of the 600 employees who were laid off, not a single one of them will become disgruntled if they had a good work environment? I too despise HR practices in some instances, but I’d consider them extremely incompetent if they believed in collective goodwill of 600 people who just lost their jobs. Keeping their access to sensitive systems (in a rocket company, no less!) would be opening the company up to sabotage, and HR would be fully (and rightfully) blamed for it.

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.


Do it progressively rather than telling everyone "go home and start guessing whether you'll come back." Hack and slash will always have casualties, and you'll lose good people. If you go down the chain asking people confidentially whether there's anyone they feel the team would be better off without, then you can work on removing the weakest links without making the entire company feel like they can't trust you.

To tell people face to face, to have the courage instead of hiding behind the impersonal email. Basic etiquette.

I've been laid off face to face. It's not enjoyable. The logistics of safely laying off 10% of a workforce really prohibits this anyway.

It's not enjoyable, but it's still the right thing to do.

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.


What if the managers are fired too? Should they be kept on just long enough to fire their reports? Is that somehow more humane?

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.


I think we can all agree it is chicken shit to not tell people in person.

Looks like Lumberghs of hn disagree.

Oh of course, anyone that disagrees with you must be an idiot taking the perspective of a bad boss, even when they're talking about their experience being fired.

There’s no good way to do this. At least this way they find out in the comfort of their own homes.

How would you do it?


Standard technique to avoid confrontations.

How would you execute a 10% layoff at a company sensitive to employee sabotage? I agree I would prefer a face to face personally, but I don't see another way here.

To drag it out another way would leave the company and its operations highly exposed to those individuals leaving in my opinion.


I actually like what Musk has done, technology wise, but if this management style doesn't point to him possibly being on the spectrum, I'm not sure what will.



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