Julian’s post earlier today regarding the rumors that Jobster, the web 2.0 darling of the recruiting space, may be faced with laying off workers was met with strong reaction. There is an emotional response as this is a serious topic – this isn’t just about good or bad business decisions. We are talking about people’s lives. Rumors or even speculation of pending layoffs is some of the most stressful news for employees (news cited incidentally before Jules even picked up the story by veteran business reporter Om Malik – GigaOm as well as John Cook, a reporter from the Seattle Post Intelligencer’s who has written about startups and venture capital in Seattle for nearly a decade).
As a student of social media, and someone that cares deeply both professionally and personally about how companies treat their people – their talent – that which made them what they are today, I have been watching as social media has aided the spreading of this story – specifically – the effect that the “buzz” must be having on the employees.
This is no small deal to people to find out through blogs that they may be losing their jobs. This is almost a case study of how Social Media will have a powerful effect upon the employee experience, internal communications, and employer brand. Whether the information is ultimately right or wrong this is a situation that will continue to occur as blogging becomes even more prevalent. Jobster employees are likely to be left wondering what is going on with their company right now. I wonder what Jobster is doing right now during this “Moment of Truth” to manage the employee experience.
We all talk about wanting more authenticity from corporations and a flattening of the traditional hierarchy – but the reality is managing radical transparency internally is hard. But the exposure of this isn’t such a bad thing. The employees are talking about this around the water cooler right now – and while I think that Jason is doing the right thing by addressing this on his blog – I also wonder how much direct communication is going on. It isn’t like this is a huge company, personal touch is possible and can make all the difference in managing the rumors and/or the truth – whatever that may be.
In the Web 2.0 world, we have CEO’s blogging; employees blogging; reporters blogging; all with trackbacks and permalinks. The speed at which a story can spread for all to see in the blogosphere is dizzying. Social media and its uncoordinated actions of individuals – many voices, tones, and resulting comments – introduce a level of unpredictability into the equation that has to be managed.
Perhaps formal communications weren’t planned until after the new year – but hopefully this situation has hastened the need to communicate truthfully, with sincerity and respect NOW, not later, not when the company is ‘ready’. Because of the spread of knowledge horizontally that blogs enable, what was once hidden or traditionally communicated in ‘official’ top-down vertical style is now open for all. Blogs radically affect the employee experience and can forever tarnish employer brand if not managed properly. Interesting to see how a Web 2.0 company handles this Web 2.0 problem.
[tags]social media, jobster, employer brand[/tags]