Why Zoom Should Not Be Used for Everything, Particularly Layoffs

It seems that no industry can escape coronavirus economic fallout, with the gig economy especially feeling the pain. As citizens shift their daily activities to become more home-centered, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft see business dropping by almost 50 percent.

To cut costs this week Uber announced layoffs for 3,500 employees, or 14 percent of its workforce. While many companies are accepting the burden of letting staff go with more empathetic methods (Airbnb is a good example), Uber delivered the news to its staff with a brief Zoom call. The video leaked to the Daily Mail showed the head of Uber’s customer service office, Ruffin Chavaleau, delivering the news to the company.

Chevaleau talked about the state of the company, while informing viewers that that day was their last day on the job.

"With trip volume down, the difficult and unfortunate reality is there is not enough work for many front-line customer support employees," Chavaleau said. "As a result, we are eliminating 3,500 front-line customer support roles. Your role is impacted and today will be your last working day with Uber."

Chevaleau defended the quick delivery by stating that the strategy hoped to avoid gossip and rumors.

"I know that this is incredibly hard to hear," she said. "No one wants to be on a call like this. With everyone remote and a change of this magnitude, we had to do this in a way that allowed us to tell you as quickly as possible so that you did not hear it from the rumor mill."

Somehow this quick method may not be the best way to keep current and even former workers in your good graces. It shows Uber coming from a point of defense, and caring more about themselves than those working for them.

And even if you are using a virtual conference chat like Zoom, the care in packaging and distribution of messaging regarding bad news goes a long way. Even though Airbnb's CEO sent an email to the entire company regarding its layoffs, it consisted of almost 3,000 words, which spelled out the company's problems, support it would provide to those staff losing their jobs, as well as an empathetic message regarding the CEO's fervor and love for the company and all who contributed to it. Uber failed on most of these fronts.

And the fact that the video was leaked to the media, well, that confirms a displeasure from the audience on message delivery. Showing employees empathy, transparency and respect, can help avoid former employees lashing out on a company. While no one wants to be laid off, there's a right and a wrong way to doing things. Those leaks to the media will define that.

This article is part of PRNEWS' ongoing daily COVID-19 coverage.