EDITOR’S COLUMN: We expect better from our employers

Another massive round of big tech layoffs took place last Friday, marking nearly 50,000 employees’ final days at Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft. How did these employees find out? By trying to badge into their buildings and being denied or by simply being locked out of their corporate accounts.

While those in tech will likely bounce back fast because of how rapidly the industry is growing and evolving, it sets a dangerous precedent for the whole of the corporate world. Further, it asserts that these employees don’t deserve dignity and respect in the layoff process. Why, after rolling out the red carpet in acquisition, do these giants think this approach to layoffs is okay?

Sure, scheduling ten to 12,000 meetings in a day is infeasible, but treating the loss of someone’s income source like you’re delivering today’s Old Navy spam email or some broken hotel keycard is a joke, and no one should ever expect or have to put up with this treatment. While I’m not asking for a hand to hold while I cry over it, some decorum or, better yet, human decency is required.

As employees, we’re expected to deliver a two-week notice when we quit so that our former employer has time to find a replacement for us. Why isn’t this a two-way street? They’re just letting people go willy-nilly.

Take Kimberley Diaz for example. A former Googler who garnered nearly two million views on TikTok from sharing what it’s like to getting laid off while she was mid-business trip thousands of miles from home. Yeah, they didn’t cancel her flight home, but they might as well have.

Yes, safety nets like unemployment benefits exist for exact situations like this. However, when you compare the monthly average earnings of a software engineer at Google, roughly $12,500 according to Glassdoor, to what they’d be taking home from California unemployment benefits, roughly $1,800 per the California Employment Development Department’s benefits calculator, people are being left out in the cold. Sure, they’ll get severance packages of varying degrees to help them in their transition, or will they?

Former Meta employee Brit, better known as @clearlythere after going viral on TikTok, spoke out about Meta’s practices and showed off her separation documents, showing she was getting nothing in terms of separation pay. Even though Meta has been touting 16 weeks worth for their laid-off employees.

As someone who’s joining the full-time workforce in as little as three months in a seemingly equally turbulent field, this climate is troubling. As a boss of more than 30, I’m heartbroken and frankly disgusted. I expect more from an employer. I expect my hard work, furious effort and personal results to be met with respect and dignity. I expect to be viewed as an asset, not as expendable.

If there’s one thing I am grateful that journalism gave me, it’s my voice. Not only to report on injustices like these, but to be able to speak up when they are happening to me. I want to fight for better usage of both because I don’t want my generation to grow to resent their jobs because of the culture. The culture should accent and elevate the work worth doing.

We demand better from the modern workforce. Humanity, flexibility, understanding and compassion are no longer qualities we should expect from the best workplaces but from all of them. We know our worth because we’re paying the loans on it, and we’re no longer settling for less.