Web Stories Thursday, February 29

STANDARD, IF NOT STELLAR BUSINESS PRACTICES

Some viewers look at the video and see standard if not exactly stellar business practices. Hire a bunch of 20-somethings and see who sinks and who swims – churn and burn. Grade employees on a forced curve and fire the bottom 10 per cent – rank and yank.

Outsource the dirty work to people with little or no connection to the employee being terminated. It’s not personal; it’s just business. This is how big companies work.

That’s the message Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince seemed to lean on in his response on X (formerly Twitter). Although he called the video “painful to watch”, he also defended his company, saying: “We fired around 40 sales people out of over 1,500 in our go to market org. That’s a normal quarter … Sadly, we don’t hire perfectly.”

Others assume that the fired worker must have done something to warrant being let go. By uploading the video, they say, she showed herself to be a loose cannon. They generally empathise more with the HR people doing the firing – terminating employees is never fun, and now their private conversation has been recorded and broadcast without their consent.

A combination of workplace norms and new technologies – sensitive conversations occurring over Zoom, an employee’s phone camera always within arm’s reach – increases the likelihood that all sorts of private conversations end up online.

That was already the case with texts and emails, which can easily be leaked or hacked to the embarrassment of all involved. And I’ve heard stories from the pre-internet era of managers slowly realising their disgruntled employee was most likely recording the conversation on a cassette tape. But a video makes it all so much more vivid.

And we live in a world with more than a billion surveillance cameras and 6 billion smartphones, each equipped with its own lens. It’s an ad hoc panopticon.

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