Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter will come with turnover. Some employees will leave, and there is nothing anyone can do about this. That's normal in the case of new management. But Musk's purchase of Twitter has been anything but ordinary.
The New York Post describes Twitter employees as "apoplectic," while the calmer Washington Post claims employees "feared widespread demoralization and layoffs" with Musk's takeover. Fox News calls the employees "distraught" and "too in shock to speak." In other words, the employees aren't pleased, and Musk has a challenge ahead of him if he wants to keep Twitter's employees. Here are five things he can do to help retain staff.
Listen to ALL the employees
Right now, the employees who are super unhappy are making their opinions known all over the internet. But my guess is that the employees who speak up are most likely the minority of the employees.
Take Twitter (the website, not the company) as an example. Seventy percent of Twitter users are male, 65 percent lean toward the Democratic party, and 25 percent of Twitter users make 97 percent of the tweets. If you think that Twitter represents the world as a whole, you'll find yourself shocked when you turn off your computer.
Likewise, the employees who loudly proclaim that they don't want to work for Musk are in the minority--they are just louder than the others. Musk needs to listen to everyone. Not just the ones who tweet at him.
Follow through on his promises
There are concerns about how he intends to reduce the moderation to increase free speech and make the algorithm open source. People may be upset about that, but how Musk follows through will tell his new employees a lot about him. Can they trust him to do what he says, or is he someone who will change on a whim?
He needs to set the standard at the beginning that you can trust him to do what he says. Even if that means a few people leave initially, honest and upfront leadership helps with employee retention and recruitment. Everyone knows what they are getting into.
Pay attention to the unions
You may think of a union as something that works with blue-collar employees, but that isn't all unions do. They are resurging across the nation, with Starbucks and Amazon employees unionizing fairly rapidly. While Twitter employees aren't doing the jobs of warehouse or restaurant workers, unions target places with unhappy employees.
If Musk wants to keep his staff (and not have them unionize), he must pay attention to union activity. According to Jon Hyman, employment attorney and partner at Wickens Herzer Panza, the National Labor Relations Board is very pro-union and "hellbent on helping unions win even more."
Fix the problems in his other companies
Tesla employees have claimed sexual harassment and just lost a racial discrimination lawsuit. Twitter employees are undoubtedly aware of these lawsuits. They don't want to bring in a new boss who allows sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Musk needs to correct the companies he's controlled for years if he expects to have respect from his new Twitter staff.
Keeping employees in a toxic environment is difficult, especially in a company like Twitter, where employees generally have other options.
Get and maintain support from Jack Dorsey
In November, Dorsey stepped down as Twitter's CEO, but he still influences Twitter and Twitter employees. Dorsey openly supported Musk saying, "Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness."
If he can continue this support, it will go a long way to keep employees happy with his leadership.
Some turnover is inevitable, but Musk can do a lot to mitigate it. These five steps are a good start.