Employees reject return to work mandates amid layoffs, Google and Meta accused of overhiring

Plus, burnout is still around but showing signs of improving.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s look at some news stories from this week and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1 . Employees reject in-office work mandates despite continuing layoffs

The push for continued remote and hybrid work options from employees doesn’t appear to be waning, despite an uncertain economy and many organizations cutting jobs. As companies like Disney and Amazon cut jobs while simultaneously asking their employees to come back to their offices, there’s been blowback.

According to CNBC:

Perhaps the biggest question is why companies are issuing the RTO mandates now.

The most common explanation is control, according to current and former chief human resources executives. Slowing growth, the Fed’s interest rate hikes, and uncertainty over the chances of a recession (or how bad it’s going to be) has leaders reaching for whatever control they can get. Ordering workers back to the office is something they can control.

The problem with that strategy, says former Indeed CHRO Paul Wolfe, is that some “leaders and companies haven’t grasped that the old paradigm of work only getting done in an office, when everyone is together, doesn’t have to be the standard and in many cases, doesn’t exist anymore.”

We’ve talked a lot here about the value of hybrid and remote work from many fronts, including how these arrangements can be beneficial for mental health. But it’s becoming clear that remote work situations are now commonplace and seem poised to become a standard benefit people get through their jobs. Time will tell, but it doesn’t seem like remote work is going anywhere if the fervor with which workers want to keep it is any indication.

  1. Do companies overhire to produce vanity metrics?

Google and Meta hired too many staffers and many of them were doing “fake work”, said venture capitalist Keith Rabois. His comments seek to contextualize a rough economy that’s seen a jump in layoffs around the tech sector.

According to Yahoo Finance:

Speaking remotely from Miami at an event hosted by banking firm Evercore, Rabois said that major tech firms were responsible for over-hiring and that the sector’s current mass shedding of jobs to rein in costs was overdue.

“All these people were extraneous, this has been true for a long time, the vanity metric of hiring employees was this false god in some ways,” he said.

Later on the call, he estimated that Alphabet’s Google and Facebook owner Meta had thousands of employees who don’t do anything.

“There’s nothing for these people to do — they’re really — it’s all fake work,” he said. “Now that’s being exposed, what do these people actually do, they go to meetings.”

While saying in a public forum that people’s livelihoods are “fake work” isn’t really the best way to get people to agree with you, Rabois does raise an interesting point about the way today’s organizations hire.

When hiring, organizations should take a careful look to ensure that the scope of work for their prospects and new hires is accurate. Comms can benefit from acting as a sort of mediator between HR when they write the job descriptions and the final published product to ensure that it’s clear and correct with respect to the position.

That way, expectations can be clear from the outset for both sides.

  1. Employee burnout is high, but showing signs of slowing

Nearly half of American workers reported being burned out according to research by Eagle Hill Consulting, but the good news is that number is down from past years. But even as stress levels are going down, organizations can’t rest on their laurels and do nothing.

According to HR Dive:

Seventy-one percent of workers surveyed said a four-day workweek would help, while 66% wanted more flexibility. Other solutions were a decreased workload, improved health and wellness benefits, remote work, fewer administrative burdens, more amenities at the office, and the option to relocate or work from different places, the research found.

“It’s critically important for employers to dig in to understand exactly what is causing burnout among their workers to properly diagnose and address the problem. Our research shows that workers are comfortable talking about burnout, and those conversations are essential,” Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting said.

A burnt-out employee isn’t going to be an effective one. If the data is any indication, employers need to do everything in their power to bring down stress levels among their staff — and if they’re able to do so, they’re likelier to have an effective workforce. In addition, providing employees with wellness outlets like a four-day workweek or increased PTO or flexible work hours are a proven way to help combat burnout.

  1. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.