The coronavirus has trampled on many companies’ 2020 projections. Stores are closed, events are canceled, and many business models just plain don’t work with quarantine.
Over the past month, many companies have had unfortunate talks with employees. This economic downturn has resulted in layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts.
Some of the talks have been long and formal, others have been short Zoom calls. Some have been optimistic, others have focused on dwindling revenue and an uncertain future.
We broke down common words and messaging used by companies in their COVID-19 layoff talks.
- Many companies avoided using the word “layoffs” at all, even when announcing layoffs.
The other word companies skated around and used surprisingly sparingly? COVID-19. It didn’t even make the top 10 most frequently used words.
- Even companies announcing grim cuts, seem optimistic for the future, using words like “temporary,” “furlough,” and “back.”
- While most companies kept their communication fairly centric on workers (the phrase “you” and “employees” pop up a lot.) Some REALLY don’t. One company has the dubious honor of saying “investor” more than “employee.” Just what everyone wants to hear when they’re getting canned, right?
- Overall, companies use these statements to communicate their financial health and new lean position in the market, as much to communicate to employees.
How we determined this information
We analyzed 73 companies’ public statements, press releases, and other communication (leaked emails, CEO tweets/LinkedIn posts, etc) about layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts due to COVID-19. We tried to sample a diverse group of companies, from real estate and events, to big oil, startups, and box stores. This kept industry specific phrases such as oil costs from popping up. Although, you’ll noticed words such as “store” do show. Retailers have been hit hard by social distancing. They also like to talk. A lot.
We did not look at stop words such as “and” and “the.” We then examined the frequency of words across all companies’ statements. The larger the word, the more prominent the word is in the word cloud.
We have a complete list of all the companies we examined at the bottom.
10 most common words
Words that didn’t quite make the top 10? Financial and difficult. While COVID-19 was a common statement, some companies didn’t mention it all, referring instead to ambiguous terms like “difficult situation” and “present climate.”
However, almost all companies bluntly refer to the impact the coronavirus has had on their business models.
Most companies use their communications for two purposes.
1.) To convey to employees they really don’t like letting them go and what they can expect in regards to timelines, pay, and benefits
2.) To express to outside market forces they are reducing staff to re-position themselves to survive the global pandemic and continue business operations as much as possible.
Closing thoughts on companies’ Coronavirus language
Both companies and workers are reeling from the sudden economic shift. Sturdy companies have seen huge revenue declines. Formerly stable jobs are wobbling.
However, ho companies communicate to employees will have a lasting impact on their image. No doubt, many applicants after the pandemic will ask interviewers, “How did your company handle the coronavirus?”
While layoffs, paycuts, and furloughs may be unavoidable, companies that treat workers like humans and valuable assets will see a future image boost. Companies that don’t may find hiring skilled workers more difficult in the future.
Companies we looked at, in alphabetical order:
Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Circuit Of The America
Cirque du Soleil
Greater Philadelphia YMCA
New York’s Metropolitan Opera
Rent the Runway
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
Union Square Hospitality Group
This article originally appeared on Zippia.