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Better CEO Vishal Garg fired 900 employees at once via Zoom last week. The loan company’s CEO claims that this has to do with productivity and employee theft from customers, though many explain that this could have been done with more empathy and not so close to the holiday season.
According to Daily Mail Online, these terminations included the entirety of the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion team who deals with racism and sexism complaints for Better.
In a video posted online, Garg says, “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.” He also claims that this is due to the changes in the market. This is despite the fact that the company has been valued at $7 billion, as well as it had received a $750 million cash infusion in the same week as the firing.
Reportedly, share prices for Better have skyrocketed during the pandemic, leading to the company hiring 2,000 employees since the start of COVID and leading them to target $800 million in revenue this year. Despite this, Garg claims that other executives were supportive of the way the job cuts were handled, though he refused to give any names.
Despite the layoff, NY Post reports that the company would be providing four weeks of severance pay, a month of benefits, and other coverage. According to CNN, those employees could expect an email from HR with more details.
The CEO claims, “As we started to slow down our pace of hiring, we saw some alarming statistics and a number of our customers were not getting the service that they deserved from our teammates.” This was also paired with further threats of even further layoffs and close monitoring of remaining employee performances. Two even noted Garg saying the next year would be a “bloodbath,” though he denied the threat-related allegations.
Garg eventually came out as having posted an anonymous blog on professional network Blind, claiming that more than 250 employees would work 2 hours a day while clocking in for over 8 hours in the payroll system. “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”
A number of employees have called the CEO erratic, noting a number of internal Slack messages and instances during company meetings. Even further, he’s bullied employees over email saying they’re “TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS… YOU ARE EMBARASSING ME.”
After the mass-firing, Garg held a company town hall online and described plans to further improve the company. He’s been cited by Business Insider as telling employees, “If you felt in the past that people weren’t looking — well, everyone is looking now.”
A BBC News article highlights some of the opinions a number of UK professionals hold about the firing. Ann Francke, CEO of UK’s Chartered Management Institute says that “Bad managers will fire people badly whether virtually or in person… I’m sure many customers or potential customers are thinking: ‘Gee whizz, if they treat their employees this way I wonder how they treat their customers?’”
Rachel Suff, a senior policy advisor on employee relations for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, acknowledges the occasional necessity of layoffs but presses on the idea that “An employer really needs to tell people that they’ve exhausted every possible alternative, it is the last thing they wanted to do.”
And Gemma Dale, who is a lecturer in employment law and business studies at Liverpool John Moores University, puts it simply. She claims this is “no way to lead an organisation” and “Just because you can do this in America, doesn’t mean you should.”
Garg says that those who have been fired and feel they “actually had great performance” would be able to reach out to the company in order to address concerns.