Airbnb has laid off 25% of workforce; The process is a gold standard for others to follow

Layoffs are a new norm and several companies are grappling with a decision on ‘How to layoff team members?’ Airbnb has let go of 25% of workforce and the entire process is a showcase of empathy and respect.

First of all, Brian Chesky, cofounder and CEO of Airbnb openly acknowledges the market reality (and lack of clarity) – remember, Airbnb is a public company and ‘can try sugar coating’, like others.

Brian writes:

  • We don’t know exactly when travel will return. 
  • When travel does return, it will look different. 

Travel in this new world will look different, and we need to evolve Airbnb accordingly. People will want options that are closer to home, safer, and more affordable. But people will also yearn for something that feels like it’s been taken away from them — human connection. When we started Airbnb, it was about belonging and connection. This crisis has sharpened our focus to get back to our roots, back to the basics, back to what is truly special about Airbnb — everyday people who host their homes and offer experiences. 

Brian Chesky, Airbnb Cofounder

Secondly, the severance package is something a lot of startups might want to look at (emphasis is ours)

  • Employees in the US will receive 14 weeks of base pay, plus one additional week for every year at Airbnb. Tenure will be rounded to the nearest year (a great way to ensure you award loyalty – even when letting go of people).
  • We are dropping the one-year cliff on equity for everyone we’ve hired in the past year so that everyone departing, regardless of how long they have been here, is a shareholder (no words, frankly speaking).
  • We are allowing everyone leaving to keep their Apple laptops (full display of empathy)

And with respect and clarity:

Within the next few hours, those of you leaving Airbnb will receive a calendar invite to a departure meeting with a senior leader in your department. It was important to us that wherever we legally could, people were informed in a personal, 1:1 conversation. The final working day for departing employees based in the US and Canada will be Monday, May 11. We felt Monday would give people time to begin taking next steps and say goodbye — we understand and respect how important this is.

That is, you give them time/date and full transparency on the process.

Most layoffs result in chaos and confusion (across the board) : Am I being laid-off? Will there be more layoffs? Treating people with respect is the hallmark of a great leadership team – and these are the time to learn from others.

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