The wave of layoffs and resignations at Twitter following Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform last month has reached the offices of human resources. The New York Times reported this week that longtime HR leader Kathleen Pacini is among the executives who have resigned from the embattled social media platform.
On Thursday night, Pacini tweeted: “Twitter’s been my home for 9.5 years and we built a culture that changed the industry—the people team has always been the heartbeat behind this. I’m beyond proud of the team we built and how we always kept our people first.”
Pacini was vice president, global talent management and HR business partner teams, and had worked as an HR leader for Twitter since June 2013, according to her LinkedIn profile, which also lists previous roles at PwC, Frontier Communications and Deloitte.
The resignation likely wasn’t a surprise to many experts. As Lorrie Lykins, vice president of research at human capital research firm i4cp, told HRE this week, damage to Twitter’s reputation as an employer will need to be managed—and that will be an HR challenge. “Those in human resources and other leadership roles are always in a tough position when there’s a major upheaval in an organization,” Lykins said. “This is next-level upheaval, and it’s so public that everything is magnified.”
Also reported by HRE, HR leaders have had a visceral reaction to Musk’s sweeping layoffs, which began soon after his late October purchase of the site. In research from i4cp, which surveyed 400 HR leaders about Musk’s moves, almost 60% said that, immediately after the layoffs, they would have already quit or would at least be “furiously” sending their resumes to other employers.
Musk has posted that all Twitter employees must return to the office, in contrast to a policy that the social media platform announced early in COVID-19 pandemic allowing employees to work remotely “forever.”
Jennifer Christie, then Twitter’s chief human resources officer, wrote in a May 12, 2020, blog post on Twitter’s website, “So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return.” Christie left Twitter in January 2022. She is now chief people officer at DocuSign.
Musk also has eliminated the company’s monthly “day of rest” for employees, according to Bloomberg.
“It’s like Twitter’s culture has been completely turned inside out overnight,” one employee told The Washington Post.
That’s a risk, even for Musk and Twitter, the i4cp research shows. “Moving forward, it seems clear that Twitter leadership has a significant uphill battle to renovate the culture to create a work environment where employees can thrive,” CEO Kevin Oakes told HRE this week. “If they can create a healthier culture, long-term it will do more for the financial fortunes of the company than any business model change.”