Meta Layoffs Caught Workers By Surprise: 'I Thought I'd Be Clear In This Layoff'

Meta Layoffs Caught Workers By Surprise: ‘I Thought I’d Be Clear In This Layoff’

Earlier this week, a technical recruiter at Meta (META) thought the layoffs wouldn’t affect her, she told Yahoo Finance. She performed well on the job, always meeting or exceeding the expectations of a company that had made it a priority to attract engineering talent for years. She was also in her third trimester of pregnancy.

“Until yesterday I thought I would be clear about this layoff,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I didn’t think these layoffs would be on the scale that they are, or that I would be affected.”

But at 8:45 a.m. ET, she says, she was locked out of her computer, with access only to her work email.

“I tried to go and see the benefits,” the recruiter said. “I typed it into our search bar, and it wouldn’t let me in, saying I needed internal access.”

Yahoo Finance spoke with three Meta employees who lost their jobs this week, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing that coming forward could affect their prospects or future benefits. They all provided documents proving their employment with the company.

Two common threads emerged from each of them. First, they all said that management had spent the last few months saying layoffs weren’t on the table. Second, they described a work environment that had changed dramatically in recent days, particularly after the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that layoffs were imminent.

“Meta was kind of a dream company to work for,” the recruiter said. “I really wanted to trust them completely, but given the scale of these layoffs and the way they handled them, I don’t have much faith in this company going forward.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 01: Facebook/Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg attends the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 01, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Meta isn’t the first tech company to lay off workers massively in recent days. Twitter began layoffs last week that affected 3,700 employees – around 50% of the company now owned by billionaire Elon Musk – and these have been thundering on social media. Still, Meta’s layoffs represent something new for Facebook’s parent company, as it’s the company’s first-ever major job cut in its nearly 19-year history. Twitter, meanwhile, has made layoffs before, for example in 2015, under then-CEO Jack Dorsey.

“Paranoia and Anxiety”

A product marketing manager who joined the company less than a year ago said working at Meta was generally “confusing and convoluted,” but something had changed in the past few days. A deep nervousness had set in for him and his colleagues, he told Yahoo Finance.

“The last two days have been paranoia and anxiety for everyone working in the company,” he said on Wednesday. “We all thought, well, some of us wouldn’t be here by Thursday, so the work stopped – there’s no work at all in Meta this week.”

The layoffs hit recruitment particularly hard, but the cuts have been across divisions across the company – including the company’s metaverse operation, Reality Labs, all three confirmed.

Prior to the layoffs, staff were told not to come into the office, and layoff emails came in waves, employees told Yahoo Finance. The first round took place around 6 a.m. ET, and another wave came at 9 a.m. ET. A Reality Labs employee received the email at 9 a.m., just as she was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, she said.

“At Reality Labs, we always thought it was the top priority, and then two weeks ago there was a sudden shutdown,” she added. “We were just going off the speculation that ‘we’re Reality Labs, we’ll be fine.’ Even that morning as I was talking to people, I thought we’d be fine.”

Reality Labs has become somewhat infamous for losing billions as the company pivots to the metaverse. In an internal email, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took responsibility for the layoffs, saying he grossly miscalculated the operating climate.

“Not only has e-commerce returned to earlier trends, but the macroeconomic slowdown, increased competition and loss of advertising signal has caused our revenue to decline from what I expected,” he said. he told employees via email. “I was wrong, and I take responsibility for it.”

Employees Yahoo Finance spoke to were split on how satisfied they were with the benefits they receive, including payment for remaining vacation pay, 16 weeks of severance pay, and career and career support. to immigration, according to documents obtained by Yahoo Finance. . The pregnant tech recruiter said Meta didn’t provide enough clarity on the benefits, especially when it came to healthcare, while the other two said they were happy with their plans.

Even with generous severance packages, mass layoffs can carry legal risks and, if unplanned, can trigger litigation.

“When companies do things like this in a hurry, they can make mistakes that create problems,” said Melissa Atkins, labor and employment partner at Obermayer. “Even though something may be neutral on its face, its impact may be discriminatory.”

Twitter has already been the subject of a proposed class action lawsuit, which claims the company failed to give employees adequate notice of mass layoffs under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).

Atkins expects to see more layoffs in the coming months, and we may not have seen the latest cuts at Big Tech or at Meta.

“I think if my job had survived, I would still be very nervous right now,” said one of Meta’s employees.

Meta shares are up 10% on the day at market close Thursday, but down about 66% year-to-date.

Allie Garfinkle is a senior technical reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.

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