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Nov 11, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Zuckerberg apologizes for ‘getting it wrong’ as 11,000 jobs are axed

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week announced one of the biggest layoffs of the year, with 11,000 jobs – or 13% of total headcount – due to be axed. The job losses are the first in the company’s history, and are being blamed on rising costs and falling advertising revenue. It also comes after the company this year reported it first ever fall in active daily users. Analysts have said Facebook was especially hurt by a 2021 iOS privacy update that prevented Meta from targeting users with ads – something which is estimated to have cost the company about $10 billion in revenue this year alone. Shares in Meta fell 24% at the end of October, when it released it profit update, and its overall share price is down 67% this year. To affected employees, Meta said it would pay 16 weeks of base pay plus two additional weeks for every year of service as a part of the severance package. It also said it would honor all remaining paid time off.

Twitter to lay off half its workforce – with sacked staff saying they’ll sue

Last week it was demands for all-nighters to get new projects off the ground. This week came what many thought was inevitable: mass layoffs by new Twitter boss, Elon Musk, as he grapples to turn around the fortunes of the $4million a day loss-making social media platform. But not only have analysts been shocked at the scale of them – 50% of the workforce will go – but it’s the nature of them too, with employees claiming they were given no warning. Federal lawsuits have already been filed, according to US News, claiming that Twitter violated federal law by not giving fired employees the required notice. Musk tweeted he had ‘no choice’ to lay so many off, and said he was giving three times the legal minimum severance pay. According to one Twitter manager though, the way the layoffs were conducted showing a “lack of care and thoughtfulness.” A coalition of civil rights groups have said they are calling on brands to pause advertising on the platform.

New data reveals worrying numbers working two jobs to stay solvent

More and more hard-pressed Americans are working at least two jobs, just to cope with the rising cost of living, according to new data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It finds that in September 2022, some 4.9% of all US workers held two or more job positions, equivalent to more than 7.7 million workers. According to The Guardian newspaper, the real number is likely to be much higher, because of the number of gig workers. It suggests the percentage could be a high as 7.8%, while the Federal Reserve Board estimates an even higher percentage of workers in multiple jobs, at 16.4%. “There isn’t enough money to be able to afford a home or even rent from just one job on your own,” said one quoted employee. Another, Cashe Lewis, 31, of Denver, Colorado, is working two jobs but was quoted as trying to find a third to cover a recent $200 monthly rent increase. According to The Guardian, the rise in second-jobbers is creating even more burnout. One employee was even revealed to be selling their own blood plasma to raise extra cash.

Home Depot workers reject unionization

In what’s been seen by some as a surprise move, workers at the world’s largest home improvement retailer have voted to reject unionization. Workers voted 165 to 51 against forming Home Depot Workers United, which would have represented 274 employees at the store, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the voting. According to Vincent Quiles, the Home Depot employee who was leading the unionization effort: “You do things because you believe them to be right.” He said discontent with compensation, working conditions, understaffing and lack of training had spurred his effort to try and organize unionization. After the failed union vote, Home Depot spokesperson Margaret Smith told WHYY: “We’re happy that the associates at this store voted to continue working directly with the company. That connection is important to our culture, and we will continue listening to our associates and making The Home Depot a great place to work and grow.” Quiles has filed a complaint of unfair labor practices with the NRLB, alleging managers engaged in inappropriate surveillance and interrogation tactics against union supporters.

Wage gap widening between federal and private sector employees

The wage gap between federal and private sector employees is widening according to new data presented to the US Federal Salary Council. Figures show that in 2021 federal workers earned an average of 22.47% less than private sector workers with similar responsibilities. This year however, the disparity had increased to 24.09%, and it has already prompted calls for the current 4.6% pay offer set for federal employees in 2023 to be raised even higher to keep up. Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union said: “It’s getting harder [for federal employees] to stretch their paycheck to keep up with the bills, and now we see that employers in the private sector have done a better job than the federal government in helping their workers support themselves and their families.” Reardon said workers need to get at least a 5.1% pay rise in order for the wage gap to begin closing.

Forbes publishes best employers for veterans

Business bible, Forbes, has revealed its 2022 rankings for the best employers for veterans. Dominating the top ten are aerospace and defense companies, which took three spots: Lockheed Martin (placed 5th), Northrop Group (8th) and Boeing (10th). Boeing’s workforce is now 15% veteran, according to Jason Frei, president of Boeing’s Veteran Engagement Team. Frei, who himself served more than 11 years in the Marine Corps said: “Hiring and retaining veterans makes us stronger. They show exceptional leadership, loyalty, ambition, hard work, and collaboration.” ‘Government services’ is the best-represented industry on this year’s list, with 24 spots, including NASA at No.1, the Environmental Protection Agency (No.16) and the Department of Commerce (No. 38). It is thought that approximately 5% of the US population are military veterans. As of September 2022, the unemployment rate for veterans without disabilities was 2.7%, about one percentage point less than the national average for non-veterans.

America fails to make the global work-life balance list

The world’s top 20 countries with the best work/life balance have been published, and America fails to make the cut, according to data presented in Employee Benefits News. With Americans toiling for an average of 1,801 hours per year, the USA was still well behind 20th placed Czech Republic (1,753 hours worked per year), and it means employees in first-placed Luxembourg work a whole 500 hours a year less than Americans. Not surprisingly, those who live an work in Luxembourg report having a happiness score of 7.4 out of ten. Germany and Spain also ranked high for work-life balance, due to their lower number of hours worked per year. German employees work the least amount of hours in the world, clocking in at just 1,349 hours per year. In Finland mothers get 161 weeks of maternity leave (compared to zero weeks in the US), and the country also boasts 30 additional days of paid leave for all employees each year.


This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.