HR Experts On Layoffs at McDonald’s and Other Companies


This week, McDonald’s raised some eyebrows with its decision to lay off employees virtually, sparking debate around the ethics of doing so. HR experts are voicing their opinions about the practice, classifying it as insensitive and disrespectful towards affected individuals. COVID-19 greatly accelerated the shift to digital communication, but this does not mean the harsh realities of job cuts should be left behind.

McDonalds is one of the largest food-service retailers in the world, with over 150,000 employees in 2020. Its holdings include franchises, corporately owned locations, and food-service outlets throughout the world. The company provides clear guidelines to franchise owners on prescribing workplace policies, and aims to provide career advancement opportunities to employees and customers alike.

Johnny Taylor is the President and CEO of SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management). He has over 300,000 members and advocates for preserving humanity and respect for those affected by job layoffs. He critiques the decision to layoff employees virtually, claiming it leaves those suffering at their most vulnerable, isolated with no one to turn to for comfort.

Gleb Tsipursky is the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, a company that has helped many companies handle layoffs. He calls virtual layoffs the worst type of layoffs, as they deny employees of their right to be heard, empathized with and to have a face-to-face experience with their employers. Harvard professor Sandra Sucher echoes his sentiments, claiming that even involuntary terminations should at least be conducted with respect. She claims this is especially true when acknowledging the dedication and service of those cut and that mishandling layoffs could negatively affect a company’s reputation.

CEO Jennifer Tejada of PagerDuty, who is known for being “tone-deaf” about her job cuts, is an example of the backlash companies can face and the negative impact it can have on its employees. She was criticized for sending an email with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. following the announcement. HR professionals advocate for respectful communication that provides employees with answers during a confusing and painful time. They believe there should be meaningful conversations that are supportive and considerate of the individual’s loss of work.

In the postpandemic era, it is debatable whether it is more humane to call someone into the office, potentially involving a long commute, only to tell them they have been terminated. In McDonald’s case, the offices were clasped down with the intention of giving those affected confidentiality and comfort. Despite the potential benefits of conducting layoffs remotely, experts believe the ethical considerations should be taken into more serious consideration. Respect should remain the same regardless of whether it is done digitally or in person.