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Cutbacks Announced Via Zoom: Worse Than A Post-It Breakup

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

Job Loss Via Zoom

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Compassion In Job Loss: People Will Respect You More

I've recently become aware of a changing and unsettling trend when it comes to job cutbacks, and quite frankly, I'm appalled. There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who are losing their jobs as a result of pandemic cutbacks, but rather than taking the person aside and talking to them about the situation, corporations are letting employees go via online communication platforms.

Listen, I get the fact that there are some corporations that have too many individuals to warrant an in-person, individualized call, but there is something to be said about the personal touch. Job loss is a deeply personal loss a lot of the time, and in many cases, our personal identity is very closely aligned with what we do for a living. Whether that's right or that's wrong, who knows? It happens, though, so when a job loss ultimately does occur, it generates a lot of anger and grief. If the employer doesn't try to make the blow of the job loss a bit easier to take, a lot of resentment can result, leaving the employee trying to deal with the pain of feeling just like a number in addition to the other emotions they might feel in the moment.

Even a letter saying that your position is on a list of cutbacks and offering to discuss the matter further with you is far better than the employer's Zoom camera being turned off and listening to someone rattle off your name amongst those of others who have lost their jobs and then staring at a dead screen after. The decent thing is at least looking at someone - even if there's a screen between you - if you're telling them they will be losing their job.

It's like the moment in Sex and the City when Carrie had to deal with a boyfriend breaking up with her via a Post-It note. A breakup sucks, no matter how you look at it, even when it will end up allowing you to move on to greater things in the long run. As painful as it can be, though, you should at least have the decency to tell the person to their face.

It's the same thing with a job cut. Even though right now we can't gather the way we did before, the decent and compassionate thing to do is to tell someone they have lost their job to their face. Does it take more time? Sure. Is it hard to hear and to say? Absolutely, and it should be, but the option that some employers, including Bell Media and Uber, have taken recently is as coldhearted as it comes.

One could argue that losing your job in the midst of a pandemic is completely cold, given some individuals have had to deal with loss of income while businesses have been closed anyhow. However, there is not a whole lot that is in our control right now because of the pandemic, and the fact of the matter is, businesses need to look at their bottom line if they are going to ensure their continued survival during the pandemic. That much is inarguable.

However, in laying people off in the manner some companies have chosen to undertake, companies are going to be losing a lot of credibility with their consumers. Mass layoffs, particularly like the ones we've most recently heard about through Bell Media, have a tendency to make the news and especially during a pandemic. You don't want to be that company that has demonstrated an inherent lack of compassion to its employees, as consumers will ultimately look at that and question whether or not they should continue to conduct business with said company.

There is also a mental health impact, especially now, to be considered in a job loss. The pandemic has only served to make that mental health impact worse, as people want to be able to undertake a job that will minimize the risks they face in the pandemic, not take on a job that might put them square in the midst of it. Sure, there are individuals for whom a job loss may not sting too much; those who retire early who take on side jobs just to get out of the house may not be in a position where they're worried about how to make mortgage payments. However, there are many who are in a position where they are worried about where to find a job next under the current global circumstance.

The decent, compassionate thing to do that should have been done by employers at these larger corporations who delivered the news of cutbacks to their employees via Zoom should have been, at the very least, to turn their camera on while delivering the sad news. People like to see the person who's giving them bad news, for some reason, and it will be easier for them to process the loss if they have a face to associate the message with.

Delivering the news of cutbacks with a black camera and then automatically just ending the meeting demonstrates zero compassion for those who have lost their jobs, and employers like Bell Media should have definitely known better.

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