Leaked messages show how Salesforce responded to staff questions about layoffs

Jonathan Weiss/shutterstock.com

On January 4th, Salesforce announced that it was laying off 10% of its workers. In addition to the usual confusion and anger that comes with huge layoffs, there was a lot of murkiness surrounding not only the criteria for the layoffs but the reasons why so many managers were kept in the dark about the entire first round.

In response, Salesforce employees wrote a crowdsourced letter (accessed by more than 500 employees) with a long list of questions about the nature of the layoffs. According to Business Insider, which viewed the letter, Executive VP of Employee Communications and Engagement, Jill Unikel posted management’s response in an internal slack channel titled "Top Questions from Employees."

But employees were dissatisfied with these answers, which did not address all of their questions. "It throws around words like 'trust' but doesn't back them up with actions," one employee involved in the letter told Insider. He went on to say it “further cements the divide” between management and employees who are worried for their jobs. 

One big question that employees had, (also not addressed in Salesforce management’s response), surrounded the role activist investors are playing in the company’s future. Both Starboard Value, which disclosed a significant stake in Salesforce last October, and Elliott Management, which disclosed its multibillion-dollar position in the company just last week, are pressing for cost-cutting measures within the company. Both employees and Wall Street analysts believe even bigger layoffs may lie ahead if these investors get their way. 

Here is how Salesforce management responded to some of the questions posed by employees, as reported by Insider. (Note: question answers have been edited for length and clarity by The Quota. Read the full article here.) 


Question: In Marc's #all-salesforce post, it says we will be seeing more layoffs over the next few weeks. How many rounds are we expecting? And why couldn't it be done in a single round?

Answer: "This is a process impacting about 10% of our employees, across different geographies and laws, and it will take us some time to fully get through all of it, and while I wish there was not ambiguity it is unavoidable,” wrote CEO Marc Benioff. 


Question: What criteria was used to decide who was in the 10% of employees affected?

Answer: In summary, the decisions were based on our business and financial priorities. They were made thoughtfully looking at the current and future scope of work required for important projects, as well as looking at the spans of control (size of a manager's team), management layers within teams, and work that could be deprioritized. At this time, we can't share the breakdown of roles affected.

As Marc shared in the All Hands Call: "In some cases, there was a job overlap. In some cases, we've acquired companies, so there's duplication of roles or job functions. We've bought three amazing companies just in the last five years and ended up with a number of duplicities that we needed to transform."


Question: With Equality as one of our core values, How will the layoff impact our Equality & Talent initiatives?

Answer: On the call, Marc commented that "First and foremost, when we think about equality, it's one of our core values. When we think about equality, there is no finish line. I think that equality is something that's very important to me personally, but also it's something that is core to this company. We will report on our equality statistics, like we always have. We'll be transparent with it. We'll do this hopefully in a way that does not alter any of the tremendous advancements that we've made."


Question: Will those employees being impacted be provided the opportunity to interview for a different role, perhaps in a different part of the company?

Answer: Yes, they are able to interview for open internal roles. If an affected employee finds a new role internally before their termination date, they will remain a Salesforce employee and not receive their communicated severance.


Question: For visa holders (non-citizen and no green card), what's the policy of the immigration support? For H1-B visa holders they have 60 days for the transition.

Answer: If an affected employee is on a work visa, they will receive immigration consultations with internal and external experts and a flight home should they wish to return to their last place of residence. For those in the U.S., Salesforce will support a Change of Status filing if they are seeking to remain in the country following termination while searching for new employment in the country.

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.