Revealing true facesLIM MI-JIN
The author is the head of fol:in team at the JoongAng Ilbo.
Anyone can be a good person on a good day. A person’s true nature is revealed when they are forced into a corner. The same goes for a company.
The sincerity and true capacity of a company surfaces when it goes through a crisis. With the Covid-19 outbreak, we see the true nature of many people and companies.
Airbnb, a global lodging sharing platform, announced a large-scale downsizing last week. One-thousand nine-hundred of its 7,000 employees around the world are to be laid off. More than 30 million jobs have disappeared over the past two months in the United States.
Considering the impact on the travel industry, Airbnb’s layoffs are not that surprising. What’s surprising is the reactions in and out of the company over the decision.
Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky’s letter announcing the layoff stirred social media last week. A start-up insider shared the mail with his company, as it was a graceful way to go separate ways.
In the mail, Chesky explained the background for the decision in detail and said the business would focus on surviving from now on. He also promised decent severance packages — and health insurance coverage until the end of this year.
To support job searching, five measures are being offered, including a laptop. The letter ends, “Please know this is not your fault.”
You may think he was trying to package the brutal layoff beautifully. But an Airbnb Korea employee said that employees are more moved than people outside of the company may feel.
Some departments had to cut their workforce by as much as 80 percent.
The employee said, “I was surprised that no one hates the company and that they mostly said they understood and support the decision. […] We were frequently told how the company was struggling. We saw Chesky saying with an exhausted face that it was the hardest day of his life. The founders are working without pay for a year, and executives downsized their offices. With the money saved, the company worked to make up for losses of the hosts.”
This is the atmosphere that the current employee explained. Former and current employees got together over messenger to encourage those leaving and share job information. The company made efforts to be courteous until the last moment.
A society works the same as a company. At times of crisis, our true faces are revealed. Another wave of crisis is spreading in Korea and elsewhere. How are you responding to the crisis? Now is the time to show mature composure once again.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 13, Page 28