The Scoop: Employees are silent on layoffs, firings no more

Plus: Why you can’t search for ‘Taylor Swift’ on X; IRS tests new, free software. 

Employees are not staying silent about layoffs

Once upon a time, being laid off or fired from a job was something to be endured silently, an awkward scarlet letter that came up in job interviews and dinner parties, acknowledged with murmured sympathies and downcast eyes, as if the misfortune might be contagious. 

But there’s a sea of change happening now. Empowered by social media, employees (largely Gen Z and Millennials)  who identify the warning signs of a termination are documenting the experience on platforms such as TikTok, from their anxiety in the hours before, right through the meeting itself and into the painful aftermath. 

Axios cites a number of these viral videos, including a woman who began a countdown of the hours until she believed she was going to be laid off (she was correct) and another who recorded her firing for performance reasons at the hands of HR managers she did not know.  



Erin Grau, cofounder of Charter, a future-of-work company, told Axios that the videos act as a way of “holding companies, HR teams and managers accountable to conduct more humane layoffs.” 

Why it matters: Grau said it best: “HR is the new PR.” 

No longer will employees meekly accept terminations that are carried out with a disregard for the humans who have their lives upended during a 15-minute Zoom call.  

To be clear, both layoffs and firings are sometimes a necessary evil in the business world. There is no way to entirely remove the sting of hearing one is losing their livelihood. But there are certainly ways to make it easier on both sides.

These viral termination videos once again show the need for PR to be involved in every major decision-making process in a company. When layoffs are on the table, PR needs a seat at that table, helping craft the internal layoff announcement (which will inevitably leak and become an external statement). They can also help recommend best practices based on missteps of other companies and be prepared to monitor social media for fallout.

These situations are never easy. But with PR acting as the voice of the audience, including those being laid off, the pain can be eased for both those who are gone and those who remain with the organization. 

Editor’s Top Reads: 

  • After a wave of deepfakes depicted Taylor Swift in the nude, X has banned searches for the megastar’s name on the platform, to mixed success. The Verge reported that searching for “Taylor AI Swift” or even putting quotation marks around her name was enough to evade the block. Nonconsensual deepfakes are pernicious and difficult to root out. On the other, X’s gutting of its moderation team certainly makes this problem harder to get under control. The real victim is Swift, who has her image distorted at a time when she is in the spotlight for her Super Bowl-bound boyfriend and the resumption of her “Eras” tour. 
  • The IRS is piloting a program that would allow many Americans to calculate their taxes for free, without turning to paid software like TurboTax. At the moment, only Americans who resided in 12 states in 2023 are eligible, and their tax returns must be relatively simple. But it signals a sea change for an industry that has been pay-to-play for years. Accountants and tax software makers attempted to battle the program in Congress, NPR reported, but now that it’s in progress, they must fight to show why they’re worth paying for. They still have a few years before the program is potentially rolled out to the entire country and publicized. The time to ramp up PR around your software’s value add is now.  
  • Proving once again that inclusivity is good business, the BBC reports that more and more travel destinations are adding – and promoting – features that serve those with disabilities. From Fort Wayne, Indiana’s wheelchair-friendly water splash pad to backpacks that vibrate to concert music for the Deaf in Trentino, Italy, these investments are attracting the 16%  of persons worldwide who live with a significant disability. These investments are win-win-win: they help people, they bring new business and they generate feel-good media stories. The BBC story notes these investments needn’t even be costly, as in the case of the 3D-printed miniatures of landmarks that can be felt by the visually impaired.  

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on X or LinkedIn.


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