Snap to lay off nearly 500 employees, Minneapolis mayor calls remote workers ‘losers’

Plus: the shadow policies behind hybrid work.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Snap to lay off 10% of workforce

Snap, the company behind social media app Snapchat announced that it planned to cut nearly 10% of its employees, or around 500 jobs. The decision was made for a few reasons, including a push to bring people back to the office.

“We are reorganizing our team to reduce hierarchy and promote in-person collaboration. We are focused on supporting our departing team members,” a Snap spokesperson told CNBC.

Snapchat is the latest tech company to cut jobs this year – the CNBC report said that 24,000 tech jobs were eliminated in January.

A few weeks ago, Wayfair told its employees they were more likely to be laid off if they worked remotely. While it’s fine to want employees to connect more, depriving them of their livelihoods in the name of bringing them back to the office doesn’t take all the benefits of remote work into account—or reflect consideration for what happens when those benefits are suddenly taken away.

Remember that layoff comms should be done with tact and should preserve the humanity of all employees. Whatever the intention, the dominant narrative around Snap’s statement suggests that the company laid some of its people off because they weren’t willing or able to come into an office — tarnishing its employer brand and EVP in the process.

Communicating with outsized levels of empathetic language, humanity and grace is more likely to endear your organization to both internal and external audiences alike.

2. Minneapolis mayor says remote work turns you into a ’loser’

In a recent speech trying to extol the benefits of working in downtown Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey said that working remotely results in people becoming “losers”.

According to Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul:

Moving to remote work, Mayor Frey joked about the downside of spending too much time at home. “I don’t know if you saw this study the other day, what this study clearly showed… is that when people who have the ability to come downtown but don’t. When they stay home, sitting on their couch with their nasty cat blanket, fiddling on their laptop. If they do that for a few months, you become a loser. It’s a study. We’re not losers, are we?”

In terms of good leadership comms, this ain’t it, as the kids say. Sure, Frey is trying to get people to move their offices into his city’s downtown area, thus helping to boost his local economy and motivate companies to set up shop in Minneapolis.

But at the same time, Frey risks alienating all of the employees working under his jurisdiction. Effective executive comms speaks mindfully and tactfully to the leader’s entire audience, aware that the leader’s words echo the values of the organization or city, that they lead.

3. How “shadow policies” and hybrid work intersect

Quiet quitting was the work buzzword du jour over the last few years. Now it might be time to contend with another one, “shadow policies”.

According to Forbes:

“Shadow policies” are decisions by managers—apparently not afraid of their own shadows—allowing employees to work remotely even when the company’s official policy requires them to be in the office.

The article also said that according to a recent study, employees who feel they have managerial support are four times less likely to search for another job.

Managers remain the most effective guardians of employee engagement. Employees interact with them the most and are more likely to trust information when it comes from a manager. Comms should ensure that HR trains managers to communicate clearly and transparently with employees. Should managers bend the rules for certain employees? Not necessarily, but comms should also work with HR to ensure managers have a process in place to submit reasonable work accommodations, or at least implement some level of flexibility, depending on employee needs.

4. 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.

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