A total of 3,700 Tweeps were fired on Nov. 5. It was the end of an era for many Twitter employees, with some working there for more than a decade. There’s no question that it was a sad day for those who will no longer be employed by the social media platform recently acquired by Elon Musk, but what about the other half of the company that remains?
It’s inevitable that Twitter will never be the same again, which begs the question if those still employed should stay or leave? Musk already made decisions to say goodbye to “days of rest,” cancel the remote work policy and have staff return to the office full-time.
“He’s let go of half of a 7,500-staffed company, and that’s going to have a significant impact,” said S. Chris Edmonds, president, CEO and founder of the Purposeful Culture Group. “It goes back to what’s the strategy? What are you promoting? How are you communicating this saying this is our reason for being and here’s how these changes are going to help us get there? It doesn’t seem as if there has been a formalized strategy.”
“What you have to say is here’s where we’re going, here’s what we’re going to stand for, and here’s how we’re going to operate,” he continued.
Since the news that came at the end of last week, Twitter employees have taken to anonymous workplace community platform Blind expressing their concerns with the future of the company. “Used to have an amazing culture, unsure of the future,” said a machine learning engineer at the company. A software engineer wrote “recent changes in management are causing a lot of uncertainty and stress from people being let go or quitting.” Another person said “since Elon took over, everything is unpredictable, bad management and communication.”
An anonymous Twitter employee told Insider that “one of Twitter’s core values is — or was — transparency. All of our calendars were open. You could look at our former head of engineering’s calendar and see where he was having lunch that day. Documents were usually open and viewable. With a project, you could see who initiated the work, who was the assignee, who was in the chain of command. That’s all gone now.”
Twitter employees on Blind used to say things like “Twitter has this great culture of collaboration, it’s people first and I love that about it” and “Great compensation, great culture.” Now on Twitter, employees are using the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked to share stories of their memorable times at the company.
Insider reported that “staff at Twitter have been clocking much longer hours than usual since Musk took over, with his team assigning staff big tasks on tight deadlines.” CNBC reported that Twitter managers have told some staff to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, while The New York Times reported that some managers slept at the office on weekends.
“I think there is survivor’s guilt for those who remain,” said Kaydee Bridges, the former head of corporate marketing and brand at Cardinal Health who has worked with employees at Twitter for over a decade. “They are probably wondering if they’re next on the chopping block, and even if they’re not, it’s certain that their workload is going to increase substantially.”
“Those survivors are going to want to know where they’re going, what the new company is going to stand for,” said Edmonds, who from a company culture standpoint says that Musk must be intentional instead of only acting on instinct in order to see success. “Without a formalized vision, mission, values, it’s pretty hard to inspire people.”
Edmonds teaches that an organization with a good culture is one where employees feel respected and validated. “Doing cuts of 50% or more, that’s not going to feel very respectful to those that were cut, but it’s also not going to feel respectful to the survivors,” he said.
Bridges agrees, saying top talent today doesn’t seek a workplace that has an uncertain future or a sense of fear on a day-to-day basis because it ultimately doesn’t allow them to thrive. Most companies today are on the flip side and ask their employees what they want and need to ensure their success at a company and often prioritize well-being more than ever before.
“For many of those folks, they might only stay as long as it takes for them to find their next job at a company that truly values them,” said Bridges. “People shouldn’t be treated like commodities because it dehumanizes the workplace.”
At the end of the day, the remaining employees will either have to choose to adapt to the new company culture or to leave entirely. It’s something that anyone needs to decide when experiencing a leadership change at the top, however much more amplified with Twitter and Musk. Additionally, when there is a leadership change, it’s more common for that individual to take the first couple of months to get to know how employees have been operating, what they wish would be different, and make an overall assessment before conducting major changes.
“While leaders may be experiencing discomfort and fear, so are the people that you’re leading,” said Jacqueline Baker, author of The Unexpected Leader. “It’s essential, humane and morally prudent to maintain a line of communication so that people feel seen, heard and guided.”
A leader signals what they value, said Bridges. “If they value facetime and results, no matter how those results are achieved, that’s the behavior that is going to be rewarded,” she added. “If a leader shows they value not just the end result, but how it was achieved, like risk taking, wins, failures, inclusivity, then employees will focus on exemplifying those behaviors.”
Either way, she says that the company culture should be identified sooner rather than later so that employees can decide if it’s somewhere they want to be. Baker agrees: “Employees are probably navigating the waters of realizing a new leader, imagining what the organization will look like as well as exploring and even working to mold a new company culture, while remnants of the previous one are still at play.”
“I do believe if Musk does spend more time with the employees of Twitter that he’ll learn they did have a fantastic culture there and hopefully he can make sure some of those traits are still embodied,” said Bridges.