Members of Generation Z film themselves getting fired in growing TikTok trend


If you're a manager planning to fire a younger employee remotely, you may want to be prepared for the close-up. Raised on social media, some Gen Z workers have taken to recording themselves when they get fired and posting the videos on TikTok for the world to see.

The trend, which involves what appear to be authentic videos of people in the process of being laid off or reacting to the experience moments after being laid off, includes workers from fast food restaurants to office jobs and teaching. Although some of the videos are comical. enactmentsMany are real, Jason Dorsey, author of “Zconomy” and president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, told CBS News.

“We're seeing it across industries,” he said. “The vast majority of the time we see it is real. People film them being fired, they film leaving, they take the snacks on the way out.”

A recent one Brittany Pietsch TikTok Video, a tech worker from San Francisco, shows the moment she was fired from her job at cybersecurity company Cloudflare. In approximately 9 minutes video, which went viral after it was posted in mid-January, Pietsch is seen visibly tense as she sits at her computer waiting for a virtual call with a human resources person and company director. She notes in the video's captions that “coworkers had been receiving random 15-minute invites all day” and that her “best friend from work” had been fired just 30 minutes earlier, prompting the young woman to 27 years waiting for the worst.

Then the worst comes.

“I'm so sorry, my name is Rosie,” says a whiny-sounding member of HR, the first company representative to take the call. Shortly after, a second company representative, described by Pietsch in the captions as “a director I had never heard of,” launches into dismissal.

“Cloudfare's performance expectations have not been met,” he says. “We have decided to part ways with you.”

Pietsch, who had only been working in sales for the company for four months, defends her performance and asks for an explanation for the negative review, despite receiving what she described as positive comments from her boss.

“I don't think Dom or I will give you clarity or answers today that meet the expectations you're communicating to us, Brittany,” the HR person tells her, adding later in the video, “I'm happy to follow up.” with you separately to provide you with the data that was calibrated. I will have to speak specifically to revenue leadership to see if I can get it for you.”

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Employee point of view

Pietsch is one of thousands of tech industry workers who lost their jobs over the past year, many of them shortly after being hired. The layoffs have particularly jumped in the media, retail and technology sectors in a bid to cut costs after overhiring during the pandemic and while investing in AI.

Beyond drawing attention to an act that typically takes place behind closed doors, TikTok layoff videos also reflect how younger workers feel empowered by social media to speak out against their employers if they feel they are being treated unfairly.

“I've really given all of my energy and my life over the past four months to this job, and to be fired for no reason is like a huge slap in the face from a company I really wanted to believe in.” An emotional Pietsch tells Cloudflare representatives in her video that she has been seen for more than 23 million people in X, like reported by Business Insider.

Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare answered to the video in a post on X, calling it “painful” to watch.

“We laid off about 40 salespeople out of more than 1,500 in our marketing organization. That's a typical quarter. When we do performance management right, we can often know within three months or less of a sales hire, even during the holidays “, whether they are going to be successful or not,” he said, adding: “It's important to note that just because we fire someone doesn't mean they're a bad employee. Doesn't mean it won't be really, really great somewhere else.”

Deeply personal situations made public.

Public reactions to Pietsch's video have been mixed. On Glassdoor, some commentators I blame Cloudflare for framing what they say appear to be budgetary layoffs as a performance-based layoff. Others describe Pietsche as “confrontational” and “toxic,” with one commenter calling her decision to record and post the video “poor judgment (sic).” On X, by contrast, many comments express support for Pietsche, who many believe deserved a clear explanation from Cloudflare.

Cloudflare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dorsey, who focuses on differences between generational age groups in relation to business, says that for Generation Z, sharing deeply personal situations with tens of thousands of followers and speaking publicly about traditionally private matters is normal behavior.

“The important thing is that a lot of the young people we see post this on TikTok – remember, they grew up on TikTok. They shared their setbacks, they shared their breakthroughs – it could be a breakup with someone, it could be getting into college,” he said.

“For many of them, (it's) the first time they've been fired. So, of course, they want everyone to know and then they wait for the answer to tell them whether or not it was the right decision,” he added. .

According to Dorsey, the main reason many young people share their personal trials and tribulations on social media is for feedback, not monetization.

“They want to get feedback and they often have a hard time having vulnerable conversations in person, so they will often have vulnerable conversations over technology,” he said. “I talk to parents all the time and they say, 'I can't get my child to say anything important and meaningful and vulnerable, but if I text them, they'll tell me everything.' This is just a normal way of being. “.

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There is certainly money to be made for those who manage to attract a large number of followers on TikTok, Instagram or another major social platform, transforming them from simple users to influencers.

“Yes, the reality is that not only has a generation grown up sharing everything, but we have elevated the importance or value of being an influencer, being a social media star. So instead of your 5 minutes of fame, you get a million likes. or a million hearts… In our research we see that many in Generation Z, the influencer adds a real career, so of course they are doing this.”

Influencers with a follower base in the millions can close brand deals ranging from $30,000 to $150,000, the Wall Street Journal reported in October.

Potential consequences

However, influencers or not, those who broadcast videos of themselves being fired from their jobs risk repercussions, such as violating severance agreements, the BBC reports. reported. Layoff videos can also backfire for their posters if viewers find the post vindictive or unprofessional.

“Generally speaking, these types of measures are a double-edged sword. The literature on whistleblowing, a more extreme form of publicly sharing bad practices, shows that people are stigmatized for doing so,” said Ben Voyer, a professor at the School of Business ESCP who founded the Gen Z Observatory, told Business Insider in a recent article.

“Society generally does not reward people who engage in behavior that some may consider treasonous. Posting that kind of content online is a way to get moral support, on the one hand, and a bit of revenge, on the other.” , he claimed.

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