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Boss justifying mass layoffs cops ‘impossible to ignore’ onslaught - as expert warns Aussies to 'expect more'

Vice employee's reaction to the virtual town hall was so bad that the CEO had to take over.

Employees have bitten back at a boss trying to justify a mass-layoff at a US media company.

A video call was abruptly cut off when enraged employees at Vice expressed their frustration at the news in real time, prompting a warning for Aussie bosses.

The news and publishing company explained its website would be shut down and that there were plans to sell women's lifestyle site Refinery 29, which comes a year after Vice filed for bankruptcy.

Vice COO Cory Haik announcing layoffs to staff
The presentation was ended because employees kept throwing up thumbs down emojis onto the screen. (Source: TikTok)

Do you have a story to tell? Contact stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

Barrage of negative sentiment

Employees made their opinions known when they tuned in to the call to hear COO Cory Haik explain the closing of the news website would result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

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When staff were told it was a “very, very, very difficult time in the macro landscape”, the screen was filled with an onslaught of thumbs-down emojis. You can watch the video below.

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The reaction was so severe that CEO Bruce Dixon decided to end the call, noting it was “impossible to ignore the emojis” and thought it was better to organise another way for the layoff information to be sent out.

The incident has prompted a warning to Australian companies from Gartner’s HR Practice, whose advisory leader, Aaron McEwan, told Yahoo Finance it was not a good look.

“Companies are now operating in an environment where radical transparency exists and, at the same time, we know that there's a crisis of trust. So, essentially, employees don't trust their employers,” McEwan said.

“And that creates all sorts of challenges for them … but the fact that they responded to all of the emojis in such a way, they decided that they're not to be transparent, and that's going to create even higher levels, potentially, of distrust among that employee group.”

McEwan said it was the equivalent of a politician walking off stage in the middle of a debate.

Bosses warned: ‘It’s going to be an interesting ride’

He warned companies and executives to be incredibly careful about how meetings like this were structured because one wrong step could cause disaster.

There’s a TikTok trend of people filming work-related mediation proceedings or big announcements and McEwan said staff seemed to have no problem posting that on the internet.

“Your employees probably know more about your organisation than you think they do,” he told Yahoo Finance. “They are now more willing than ever to share the information that they know. And they have the tools and the technology to do that at scale.

“Expect to see more of this. There'll be cancellations of CEOs more frequently. It's going to be an interesting ride.”

Yahoo Finance has contacted Vice for comment.

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