If you’re a manager considering remotely laying off a younger employee, you may want to be prepared for your big plan. Raised on social media, some Gen Z workers have taken to recording themselves getting fired and posting the videos to TikTok for the world to see.
The trend, involving what appears to be authentic videos of individuals being fired or reacting to the experience moments after receiving the axe, includes workers from fast-food restaurants to office jobs to ‘education. Although some of the videos are staged comedies, many are real, Jason Dorsey, author of “Zconomy” and president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, told CBS News.
“We see it across all sectors,” he said. “The vast majority of the time we see this is real. People are filming their dismissal, they’re filming their exit, they’re grabbing the snacks on their way out.”
A recent TikTok video from Brittany Pietsch, a tech worker from San Francisco, shows the moment she was fired from her job at cybersecurity company Cloudflare. In the roughly 9-minute video, which went viral after it was posted in mid-January, Pietsch is visibly tense as she sits at her computer waiting for a virtual call with a human resources manager and company director . She notes in the video’s captions that “her coworkers had been getting random 15-minute invites all day” and that her “best friend from work” had been fired just 30 minutes before, leading the young woman to 27 years of expecting the worst.
Then the worst happens.
“I’m so sorry, my name is Rosie,” says a plaintive-looking HR member who is the first company representative to answer the call. Shortly afterward, a second company representative, described by Pietsch in the captions as “a manager I’ve never heard of,” moved in on the firing.
“You didn’t meet Cloudfare’s performance expectations,” he says. “We have decided to part ways with you.”
Pietsch, who had been in sales at the company for only four months, defends her performance, demanding an explanation for the negative review, although she received what she described as positive feedback from her manager.
“I don’t think Dom or I today are going to give you any clarification or answers that will meet the expectations you’re communicating to us, Brittany,” the human resources manager tells her, adding later in the video: ” I”ll be happy to contact you separately to provide you with the data that has been calibrated. I will need to speak specifically with revenue management to see if I can get them for you.
Pietsch is one of thousands of tech workers who have lost their jobs over the past year, many of them shortly after being hired. The shotsin the media, retail and technology sectors in an effort to cut costs after excessive hiring during the pandemic and by investing in AI.
In addition to drawing attention to an act that typically remains behind closed doors, TikTok’s firing videos also reflect the extent to which young workers feel empowered by social media to speak out against their employers if they feel they are being treated unfairly .
“I have truly poured all my energy and life into this job over the last four months, and to be fired for no reason feels like a huge slap in the face from a company I really wanted to believe in,” an emotional Pietsch told Cloudflare representatives in her video, which has been seen by more than 23 million people on X, as Business Insider reports.
Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince responded to the video in an article on X, calling it “painful” to watch.
“We laid off about 40 salespeople out of more than 1,500 in our sales organization. That’s a normal quarter. When we manage performance properly, we can often tell within three months or less of a sales hire, even during the holidays., whether they succeed or not,” he said, adding, “Just because we fire someone doesn’t mean they’re a bad employee.” [they] It’s not going to be really great anywhere else.”
Deeply personal situations made public
Public reactions to Pietsch’s video were mixed. On Glassdoor, some commenters are criticizing Cloudflare for presenting what they say appear to be budget layoffs as performance-based layoffs. Others describe Pietsche as “confrontational” and “toxic,” with one commenter calling her choice to record and post the video “poor judgment.” [sic]” On X, on the other hand, many comments expressed support for Pietsche, who many believed deserved a clear explanation from Cloudflare.
Cloudflare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dorsey, who focuses on the differences between generational age groups when it comes to business, says that for Generation Z, sharing deeply personal situations with tens of thousands of followers and speaking publicly about traditionally private topics is behavior normal.
“What’s important is that a lot of young people that we see posting this on TikTok – remember, they grew up on TikTok. They shared their failures, they shared their breakthroughs – this could be a breakup with someone ‘one, that I could get into college,’ he said.
“For many of them, [it’s] this is the very first time they have been fired. So of course they want everyone to know and then wait for feedback to tell them whether it was the right decision or not,” he added.
According to Dorsey, the primary motivation for many young people who share their personal trials and tribulations on social media is feedback, not monetization.
“They want to get feedback, and often they have difficulty having a vulnerable conversation in person, so they often have vulnerable conversations through technology,” he said. “I talk to parents all the time, they say, ‘I can’t get my child to say anything important, like meaningful and vulnerable, but if I text, they’ll tell me everything.’ It’s just a normal way to be.”
Certainly, there is money to be made for those who manage to attract a large number of followers on TikTok, Instagram or other large social platforms, transforming them from simple user to influencer.
“Yes, the reality is that not only has a generation grown up sharing everything, but we have elevated the importance or value of being an influencer, a social media star. So instead of your 5 minutes of fame, you get a million likes. or a million hearts… In our research, we find that for many Gen Zers, being an influencer adds a real career – so of course they do it.
Influencers with several million fans can score brand deals ranging from $30,000 to $150,000, The Wall Street Journal reported in October.
Influencer or not, however, those who post videos of themselves being fired from their jobs risk retaliation, such as violating severance agreements, the BBC reported. Dismissal videos can also backfire on those posting them if viewers find the post vindictive or unprofessional.
“Generally speaking, such approaches are double-edged. The literature on whistleblowing, a more extreme form of public sharing of bad practices, shows that people are stigmatized for this,” Ben Voyer, professor at ESCP Business School and founder of the Gen Z Observatory, told Business Insider in a recent article.
“Society generally does not reward people who engage in behaviors that some may view as betrayal. Posting such content online is a way to gain moral support on the one hand, and a bit of revenge on the other. somewhere else,” he said.
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