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Nov 18, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Elon Musk forced to clarify new working from home mandate

As news broke last week that new Twitter owner, Elon Musk, was renouncing the company’s permanent working from home policy in favor of working 40 hours a week in offices, the maverick billionaire has been forced to clarify the situation, after receiving backlash from staff. Responding to a message from a Dublin employee, claiming it was hard to move to the city to comply with working from the office, Musk said: “Anyone who can be in office, should be. However, if not logistically possible or they have essential personal matters, then staying home is fine,” he tweeted on November 13. He also said: “Working remotely is also ok if their manager vouches for excellence.” Musk had come under intense criticism for announcing that he wanted everyone to work in the office. It has also been reported that around 4,400 contract workers have already been fired in a boost to cut costs.

…oh, but he still issues ultimatum to workers

Another week, another seemingly HR-absent directive from new Twitter boss, Elon Musk. Reports suggest that the tycoon has requested that staff click a link saying they want to be ‘part of the new Twitter’ – and oh, and if they don’t, it will be assumed they have quit the business. Staff received an email on Wednesday morning stating: ‘If you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below.’ It linked to an online form, with Musk telling employees that if they did not sign by 5pm Eastern time on Thursday they would get three months of severance pay. The ultimatum comes as Musk was forced to admit that he had terminated the employment of staff who criticized him on company Slack channels. Musk, who has dubbed himself both ‘Chief Twit’ and ‘Twitter Complaints Hotline’, announced that Twitter would be more of an engineer-driven operation.

Disney announces hiring freeze and job losses

The House of Mouse has told investors that it is planning to freeze hiring and cut some jobs as it grapples to reduce costs and deal with economic uncertainty. A memo from chief executive, Bob Chapek, said Disney would be instituting a targeted hiring freeze and anticipates “some small staff reductions” as it looks to manage costs. Chapek said Disney has established a task force, including chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy and General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, to help him make “critical big picture decisions.” Chapek added: “While certain macroeconomic factors are out of our control, meeting [our] goals requires all of us to continue doing our part to manage the things we can control ­– most notably, our costs.” The memo added: “Our transformation is designed to ensure we thrive not just today, but well into the future.” The announcement follows news last week, which revealed Disney had missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly earnings.

Amazon announces 10,000 job losses

Despite ramping up numbers of warehouse workers in preparation for the holiday season, Amazon this week announced it would be cutting as many as 10,000 jobs – mainly in corporate and technology-related roles, such as those in HR and its devices unit (which houses voice-assistant, Alexa). Earlier this year, Amazon had actually doubled its cap on cash compensation for tech workers, citing ‘a particularly competitive labor market.’ But in its quarterly earnings report at the end of September, executives warned investors that its growth may weaken — possibly to the lowest point since 200, amid record high inflation. The size of the layoffs would be the biggest in the company’s history and would comprise around 3% of its total workforce. The news sees Amazon become the latest tech company to slash its workforce, after similar moves by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley firms. Shares of Amazon are down nearly 40% this year, and the company’s market cap briefly fell below $1 trillion for the first time since April 2020.

The ‘Great Resignation’ is followed by the ‘Great Remorse’

Those who quit for pastures new may not be finding the grass is as green as they once thought. This is according to new research which reveals more than 70% of respondents questioned said it has been harder than they’d hoped to lock down a good role. The data comes from a new Harris Poll, which questioned workers about their experiences with the labor market. One-fifth of the 2,000 people interviewed said they’re not working their dream job, while two-thirds of job seekers said they had regret over failing to begin their search sooner. Over 60% of seekers said their job search had dragged on for more than six months, and many say they’ve applied to more than 50 roles. Thanks to the frustration and the slog of doing job searches, half (51%) of seekers said they would now take any job offer that came along. The poll follows an earlier Harris survey in March which found that over a third of respondents who regretted quitting said that in their new role, their work-life balance had declined.

America faces huge spike in unemployment

Data suggests that the total number of tech employees laid off this year has hit 120,000 – higher than the number of technology staff sacked at the height of the dot com bubble burst in 2001. It has led some to suggest that an unemployment spike has yet to come. For as well as high profile technology companies sacking staff, The Economic Times notes big Wall Street firms, like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, have also cut jobs, and there is speculation Morgan Stanley is also planning to slash jobs in the coming months. Other American companies that have laid off employees include Warner Bros Discovery, Beyond Meat, Stripe, Chime, Opendoor Technologies, Phillips 66, Chesapeake Energy Corp, Seagate Technology Holdings Plc, Arrival SA, Coinbase Global and Walt Disney. According to consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., IT companies have already announced plans to cut 31,200 jobs this month. This figure is the highest since September 2015.

Employee burnout levels on par with height of Covid-19 pandemic

New data suggests more than half (52%) of American workers are experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout. This was a level last seen at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2022-2023 Aflac WorkForces Report finds mental health negatively affected the job performance of nearly half (46%) of the US workforce in the past year — a significant increase when compared to 2021 (when the figure was 34%). Moreover, despite the fact nearly 80% of employees say mental health coverage is critical, only 61% of workers have access to mental health care as part of their benefits package. The data also suggests burnout inversely correlates with job satisfaction and loyalty. Employees who suffer from high levels of burnout report lower job satisfaction (55%), lower confidence that their employers care about them (47%), negative perceptions of work-life balance (55%) and a higher likelihood of seeking another job in the next year (56%).


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