Sweeping layoffs were big news in 2022, and this shows no sign of slowing down in 2023. From Amazon to Salesforce, Twitter, Google, and more, major tech companies are making large numbers of employees redundant. Recently, Meta announced that it would be cutting 10,000 jobs (or roughly 10% of its workforce) in response to what CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes as “challenging market conditions.” 

While layoffs can be challenging and emotional for both the employees affected and the leaders of those companies, the language used by CEOs in their statements can make a major difference in how these dismissals are perceived. 

This week’s podcast addresses the language commonly used by CEOs in their layoff announcements, the importance of displaying empathy and humanity, and which terms leaders should avoid. Also covered is a handy framework to follow when crafting a statement regarding any changes that impact the future of a company and those who work there. Ultimately, the more information CEOs can provide to explain layoffs and what steps the company is taking to mitigate the impact on employees, the better! 

Thanks to social media, disgruntled employees are now able to tell the world how they feel about being laid off, whether fairly or unfairly, and it’s your job as a leader to mitigate those outcomes. People are paying attention, and as you’ll learn from this episode, CEOs should see this as an opportunity to show some humanity.

Key Points From This Episode:


  • Why displaying empathy and understanding for dismissed employees is important.
  • Terms to avoid, including redundancies or cutbacks.
  • Corporate pet names, blaming outward, and other insights from The Washington Post about “how tech CEOs talk when they lay off workers.”
  • Victim-blaming language that tech CEOs use in statements and memos regarding layoffs.
  • Accountability, apologies, and vulnerability: why there needs to be less ego in the C-suite.
  • What you can learn from the missteps of “robotic” leaders who lack compassion.
  • Placing blame on broader economic factors rather than employees.
  • Own it, explain it, promise it: a framework for statements regarding changes in a company.
  • How CEOs can communicate a sense of hope and optimism for the future of the company.
  • Why the most basic requirement for any layoff announcement is showing humanity.


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

‘Deeply, truly, very sorry: How tech CEOs talk when they lay off workers’

‘I’m a tech recruiter and I was laid off at Meta this morning’ – @jenntherecruiter


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