This article is an on-site version of our Working It newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every Wednesday
The sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank sent shockwaves through the finance and tech world this past week. Silicon Valley Bank employees, at least for now, were offered 45 days of employment at 1.5 times their regular pay, according to Reuters. But we’ll be watching to see what’s next for workers at both banks.
Unfortunately there was pain elsewhere for tech sector employees this week. Yesterday Meta announced a further 10,000 lay-offs in the coming months. That’s on top of an estimated 121,000 tech lay-offs in January and February this year.
Behind every one of those numbers is the story of a person whose life has been disrupted — and that’s not including the uncertainty and shock facing who did not lose their jobs.
We were already tackling the huge topic of lay-offs on the Working It podcast this week but the SVB news took us back into the studio to re-record. We’ve now split it into two episodes — one this week focusing on how managers can lay people off humanely and well (where that’s possible) and then a second to come, which focuses on those left behind, who still have jobs.
Jonathan Black, head of the careers service at Oxford university and the FT’s Dear Jonathan columnist, suggests that one way to frame the shocking experience of mass firings — for both the laid off and left behind — is to make use of the Kübler-Ross change curve to understand what’s happening to us. It was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the 1960s as a tool to help us understand grief, but many have discovered that the change curve also works well in workplaces.
After a shock or traumatic event, we start off in shock and denial, move through anger and depression and finally arrive at acceptance and integration. It’s a good place, I think, to start working our way through the complex human impacts of mass lay-offs. (Isabel Berwick)
Top stories from the world of work:
How Cal Newport rewrote the productivity gospel. His strategies for stressed-out knowledge workers have sold 2mn books. What does he know that we don’t?
Companies turn to TikTok as UK labour shortages bite. Companies have injected £30,000 each into a campaign to promote jobs on the social platform.
Business books to read this month: from strategies for dealing with tricky problems to how incentives really work.
Alpha males plus poor governance equals big pay deals. Recent events at UniCredit echo those at Barclays a decade ago.
The new workplace is a work in progress. Covid-19 dismantled outdated practices but what replaces them remains contested.
Therapy at work
What do law firms Linklaters and Hogan Lovells, and US banks JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have in common? Long hours, you say?
Actually, as Emma Jacobs reports this week, they are among numerous companies to offer virtual and on-site psychologists to help staff deal with problems both at work and in other parts of their lives.
Those Emma spoke to say that support such as this can help employees deal with grief and loss, anxiety and depression. When therapists are available it means employees can access support more easily — especially in places where mental health systems are struggling to cope.
The offer of counsellors and therapists helps ease the pressure on managers, who themselves can be highly stressed. Meanwhile, Emma points out that the benefit also signals to staff that managers are supporting their team members.
What other mechanisms can help staff manage stress and their mental or physical health? Emma’s analysis speaks to an earlier piece by FT columnist Sarah O’Connor, where she explores how occupational therapists may provide a practical solution to those struggling, especially if they can intervene at a relatively early stage.
Tech is also being deployed. This newsletter only recently touched on how AI is combating burnout. An app from Kintsugi can, according to its chief executive Grace Chang, detect depression and anxiety almost 80 per cent of the time from voice notes made by employees.
When the app identifies a potential problem, it offers users help to get treatment. Employee engagement platform Winningtemp is also developing AI that assists in detecting burnout. It does this by using AI to determine which questions to ask in employee surveys.
However, are these tools simply painting over the cracks when what really needs addressing are systemic issues such as long working hours or poor management? Tell us what you think at [email protected].
PS don’t miss this wider piece on employee mental health and wellbeing by the FT’s global education editor Andrew Jack, which highlights the need to tackle these deeper structural issues linked to management style and work culture. (Janina Conboye)
This week, the FT’s Pilita Clark mused on whether WhatsApp is making work life nastier and more brutish. Leaked messages written by the UK’s hapless former health secretary suggest it might be, she writes. What did readers think?
For ConnDublin, WhatsApp in particular does not stand out:
It is what the user sends on the medium that has the impact. This was equally true with SMS and email. So, what’s new?
Melissa Sturgess believes using the app for work is unwise.
WhatsApp is a dangerous business “tool” and encourages undisciplined comms.
Kibbitzer says WhatsApp is banned at their workplace.
Both on privacy grounds and because it blurs the boundaries between work and private life. Other employers should do likewise.
A window into where you work
After we asked readers to share with us insight into the ways you work — and why it does, or doesn’t work for you, we’ve had a great response. Please keep the photos and descriptions coming! Reach us at [email protected].
Lucy Donovan, personal assistant to the chief executive of Jellyfish shares her spectacular view from the 22nd floor of London’s iconic Shard building.
[The] view never fails to inspire me. The sunsets, with their beautiful shades of orange and red, stop me in my tracks every single time and I’m well known for sharing my snaps on Instagram. No two sunsets are the same, much like my working days!
Fashion Matters — Lauren Indvik unravels the big stories in style. Sign up here
Disrupted Times — Documenting the changes in business and the economy between Covid and conflict. Sign up here