An ultimatum, sudden terminations: Twitter changes raise questions about Elon Musk's management skills
Elon Musk gave Twitter employees an ultimatum: commit to an "extremely hardcore" work environment or leave.
The demand came as Musk clashed publicly with employees, who are quickly learning what it's like to work for the tech entrepreneur. In just three weeks, Musk has laid off thousands of workers, abruptly ended the company's remote-work policy and fired employees who criticized him.
Musk has already been sued by Twitter workers for abruptly eliminating 3,700 jobs, claiming the company didn't give sufficient notice under federal and California law. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires large companies to provide 60 days' notice before mass layoffs.
Musk also has earned a reputation as a demanding boss, working long hours and expecting his employees to do the same. He reportedly told Twitter employees to expect 80-hour workweeks, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this year, Musk, who also helms Tesla and Space X, reportedly told workers at the companies to return to the office or find a new job.
Musk also has been accused of terminating Tesla workers in fits of "rage-firing," a claim he has denied. Space X fired employees who drafted and circulated a letter criticizing Musk, The New York Times reported.
As Musk revamps Twitter, here are some workplace changes he has put in place:
Twitter exodus:Employees resign from Twitter after Elon Musk's deadline to recommit and walks back remote-work policy
Embrace 'new Twitter' or leave:Musk gives workers deadline to decide job fate
Do 'hardcore' work or take severance
Twitter employees had until Thursday to decide whether they will commit to "hardcore" Twitter or leave the company with severance.
Musk said staff "will need to be extremely hardcore" and work long hours at high intensity to build "a breakthrough Twitter 2.0." He added that Twitter will become much more engineering-driven, with employees who write "great code" compromising most of the team.
Musk asked workers to click yes on a link provided in an email if they wanted to be a part of the "new Twitter" by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday. Employees who didn't reply by then would be give three months of severance, according to The Associated Press.
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Musk fires employees who criticized him
Musk clashed Monday with a Twitter employee on the platform and publicly fired him.
The firing followed a tweet Musk posted Sunday, saying Twitter was "super slow in many countries" because of poorly batched remote procedure calls.
"This is wrong," developer Eric Frohnhoefer responded and exchanged several messages with Musk. On Monday, Musk tweeted Frohnhoefer was "fired" and then deleted the tweet.
More employees who have criticized Musk publicly and behind closed doors have been fired, according to reports.
In response to a tweet about news of the firings, Musk tweeted Tuesday, "I would like to apologize for firing these geniuses. Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere."
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Mass layoffs, cuts to contract workforce
The firings follow mass layoffs that impacted roughly half of its workforce of more than 7,500 full-time employees. Since the layoffs, some of the company's top privacy and security executives reportedly resigned last week.
The Federal Trade Commission said it's “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” according to The Associated Press.
Activist groups worried the mass layoffs would impede Twitter's ability to moderate content and called on brands to pause advertising spending on the platform because the platform has seen a spike in hate speech.
Musk recently cut content moderation contractors as he continues to gut the company's workforce, The Associated Press reported. The number of contract jobs eliminated remains unclear.
A ban on remote work
Musk last week ended Twitter's remote-work policy and said workers would be expected to be in the office for at least 40 hours a week, according to reports.
In an email to employees, Musk said “remote work is no longer allowed” and the road ahead is “arduous and will require intense work to succeed.”
Twitter's previous CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey announced in May 2020 that staff could work from home indefinitely. Now, Musk will approve remote work only on a case-by-case basis.
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Racism, harassment complaints at Tesla
Musk's automotive company, Tesla, has been accused of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
A group of 15 Black former or current employees sued the company in June, accusing it of failing to prevent racial discrimination and harassment at its factories, according to Reuters.
The same month, a Tesla shareholder filed a suit claiming Musk and the company's board neglected to address worker complaints and fostered a toxic workplace culture.
Tesla also has been sued by a California state agency over accusations of racial discrimination and harassment.
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In response to the California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing warning that it would file the lawsuit, Tesla said in February that it "strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment."
"Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously," the company said in a statement.
Musk in May denied reports his aerospace firm SpaceX settled a sexual misconduct claim by a flight attendant who had accused the billionaire of exposing himself and rubbing her leg without consent.
Contributing: The Associated Press