Twitter is laying off thousands of employees starting today. Its email to employees is horrific.
Start with this: the letter did not come from Elon Musk or, apparently, anyone: it’s just from “Team” with the same text sent to every employee in the company. This is cowardly and an unnecessary; every knows who’s responsible.
Breaking down the text of the layoff notification email
Here’s the text (supplied by the Washington Post) along with my translation. I’ve highlighted the most cowardly and euphemistic words.
In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday. We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.
Translation: We took on so much debt that, for Twitter to survive, I need to cut payroll by half today. A lot of you are dead weight but of course some of the people I’m cutting did a good job. (And by the way, thanks to all of you who pulled all-nighters and are now losing your jobs.)
Notes: “Impact” is a strange euphemism. And the whole thing is written as if stuff like this just happens and no one is responsible.
Given the nature of our distributed workforce and our desire to inform impacted individuals as quickly as possible, communications for this process will take place via email. By 9AM PST on Friday Nov. 4th, everyone will receive an individual email with the subject line: Your Role at Twitter. Please check your email, including your spam folder.
Translation: We’re emailing everyone tomorrow morning. The email with the subject line “Your Role at Twitter” will tell you if your role is to do two jobs to cover for people we fired, or to be an ex-employee.
Notes: This may be the longest possible way to say “Check your email.” And it’s actually PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), not PST (Pacific Standard Time).
If your employment is not impacted, you will receive a notification via your Twitter email.
If your employment is impacted, you will receive a notification with next steps via your personal email.
If you do not receive an email from twitter-hr@ by 5PM PST on Friday Nov. 4th, please email email@example.com.
Translation: If you’re about to have to do two jobs, you’ll learn by corporate email. If your corporate email stops working, you’re screwed. And forget emailing HR, since the email address has now been published in every news organization known to America, their email box will be flooded.
Notes: Twitter has turned the process of notifying people of their layoff into a video game. The human part — where people learn they’ve been laid off from their boss — they left out, because of course that would take time and be messy.
To help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data, our offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended. If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please return home.
Translation: Work at home is bad except for now, when we don’t trust any of you with access to buildings and systems.
Notes: The sentences about office closings and badge access are in passive voice, but the whole sentence is written in a strangely impersonal fashion — as if Twitter’s layoffs are some sort of natural disaster that the unnamed management is dealing with.
We acknowledge this is an incredibly challenging experience to go through, whether or not you are impacted. Thank you for continuing to adhere to Twitter policies that prohibit you from discussing confidential company information on social media, with the press or elsewhere.
Translation: Yeah, it sucks. Don’t talk to the press or we’ll sue you.
Notes: The use of “we” in an email with no sender’s name attached makes the sympathy here baldly insincere. Pairing it with a threat undermines it further.
We are grateful for your contributions to Twitter and for your patience as we move through this process.
Translation: Here’s our pro-forma thanks for the work you did that we’ll now feel free to alter or destroy. Sit still and take it.
Notes: Who signs an email as it’s from the company? Is Twitter now sentient?
This is all people have heard
This is apparently the only email from management since Musk took over the company. That’s pretty sad. I have friends who work at Twitter; I grieve for them, whether they’re staying or going.
I’m sure there’s a lot of this going on . . .
Layoffs suck. But you don’t have to be this mean. Musk is focused right now on his strategic vision for the company. The people don’t really matter. Too bad the people that are left are the only way he’s going to get to make anything happen.