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Employees are still human

“Treat others the way that you would like to be treated”.

It’s a simple saying that I’ve been hearing since I was at primary school. But it is one of those things that is said so often that the message begins to lose its strength and is seemingly repeated for the sake of it.

One of those areas where it is so often forgotten is in business and nowhere is more unreceptive to this than start-ups pushing towards their IPO.

Airbnb has seemingly bucked that trend.

No business owner or CEO likes the thought of laying off members of staff regardless of the size of the business.

But they are often an unfortunate necessity to either keeping a business solvent or adapting to the changing times.

The Airbnb layoffs are just the latest in a long line of redundancies caused by Coronavirus and they most certainly won’t be the last ones to make this decision as the landscape undoubtedly will become murkier before clarity reigns.

However, there are two words that come to mind with the layoffs at AirBnB.

Human Communication

In a sincere letter to his employees, Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesk outlined the decision that had been made and why it had to be done, not in convoluted and confusing language. He was clear and concise. No investor heavy lingo, just simple down-to-earth terms.

Firstly this takes helps to reduce the worry, there is nothing worse than receiving something out of the blue, knowing it is bad but needing to use a dictionary to discern the meaning.

Secondly, having a clear philosophy that everybody understands means that they don’t feel left out in the cold. This is particularly true for Airbnb whose original tagline was “Travel like a human.” Having the human-centric approach would always help people buy in and feel like they are a successful part of that brand. But also that if anything happens they would be treated like a human.

Or to rejig my opening statement to be treated like someone else would want to be treated.

With respect and consideration.

Not just left in the cold and discarded.

That is what makes the Airbnb message brilliant, the human element is still firmly fixed at its core despite its huge growth over the last few years.

The letter not only lays out the reasons behind the layoffs but also sets out the considerations that they will be making to benefit the employees that will be leaving.

These considerations include:

  • Severence packages
  • Dropping the one year equity cliff for employees so all employees regardless of time served are shareholders
  • Covering healthcare/health insurance costs

As well as supporting them in finding new roles through partnerships with RiseSmart, the Alumni Placement Team, the Alumni Talent Directory and allowing departing employees to keep their laptops.

Some of these might seem like a small gesture but there is no doubt these gestures that will solve a number of issues moving forward for their soon-to-be-former employees.

Not every company will be in the position to give out a free laptop to every employee that they make redundant.

But the way that Airbnb has dealt with this situation has provided other companies with a takeaway should they face this decision in the future.

That takeaway is this.

Businesses have to make considerations for their future but they should also make considerations for how they can put their redundant employees on a great footing to find their next role quickly once they have left.

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