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Firm featured in viral firing video slammed for poor HR practice

The video is part of a growing trend of employees calling out bad behaviour on social media

An IT service company has been heavily criticised for poor practice and lack of clarity after a former employee filmed herself being fired and posted it to social media.

Brittany Pietsch, a sales person at Cloudflare, posted the video to her TikTok account with the caption: “When you know youre [sic] about to get laid off so you film it :) this was traumatizing honestly lmao.”

The viral video showed Pietsch being called by an HR professional and director who she claimed she had never met before. 

The director started the meeting by telling Peach: “You have not met our expectations for performance. We have decided to part ways with you.”

When Pietsch said that she had never received negative feedback before and asked them to explain which metrics they used to measure her underperformance, she was met with repeated vague answers.

The director told her: “I won’t be able to go into any specifics.” The HR professional on the call told her: "I don't think we’re going to be able to give you any clarity or answers to meet your expectations."

When Pietsch asked why her manager was not present while she was being dismissed by people she had never met, the director said: “Just from a process perspective, your questions are valid. This isn’t going to be the forum or the situation where we’ll be able to go into the detail that you’re looking for.”

Pietsch replied: “But then when? If it’s not going to be when I’m fired, then when is it? Because it’s certainly not going to be after I have left the company.”

Read more: What is #WorkTok?

In response to the video, Cloudflare cofounder Matthew Prince posted on X (formerly known as Twitter): “We fired ~40 sales people out of over 1,500 in our go to market org. That’s a normal quarter. [..]

"In this case, clearly we were far from perfect. The video is painful for me to watch. Managers should always be involved. HR should be involved, but it shouldn’t be outsourced to them, No employee should ever actually be surprised they weren’t performing. We don’t always get it right. And sometimes under-performing employees don’t actually listen to the feedback they’ve gotten before we let them go.[...]” 

Ian Moore, managing director of HR consultancy Lodge Court, said the video is part of a trend of employees calling out bad behaviour on social media.

He told HR magazine: “Leaders should be held accountable for poor behaviour and employee mistreatment in the workplace. There are several learnings that HR professionals can take away from this, in particular ensuring they have built a strong case for an employee's dismissal, with evidence.

“There is also a lesson about being clear and factual in the meeting so there is no room for misinterpretation and ensuring that the termination is carried out face-to-face by their line manager so that they can answer any questions the employee might have. 

“By documenting everything – all interactions and performance issues leading up to the termination as well as the dismissal meeting itself – you can ensure that the process has been conducted correctly and fairly.”

Read more: 'Managing up' TikTok trend goes viral

Employees using social media to talk about poor treatment at work is a growing phenomenon; the TikTok hashtag #WorkTok has had around 2.4 billion clicks so far.

However, employers should resist the temptation to put overbearing social media policies in place, according to Stephanie Kelly, chief people officer of Iris Software Group.

She told HR magazine: “Some companies have been known to try to implement a ‘you must like us clause’ into contracts in an attempt to force employees to like, comment and add favourites to company posts. 

“This steps way over the line of what is reasonable, encroaching into the personal lives and opinions of employees. HR should not be involved in this way.  

“The best way to ensure positive interactions is to focus on creating a positive work culture and following through with promises. This will naturally prompt staff to be brand ambassadors and promote the good stuff.”