Workers at JD.com and Bilibili are getting retrenchment notices disguised as congratulatory notes for them on having “graduated” from the companies. Here, a worker sorts packages for delivery ahead of the Singles Day shopping festival which falls on November 11, at a JD.com warehouse in Beijing on November 9, 2021.
Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images
- Chinese social media users are sharing images reportedly from two tech giants saluting laid-off workers for “graduating.”
- The job cuts come as China’s tech giants grapple with Beijing’s crackdown on the sector.
- Experts said that the firms are trying to protect their reputation as more workers get axed.
China’s most influential tech companies are laying off workers — and congratulating them on the job loss.
After news broke last week that e-commerce giant JD.com was axing workers, some social media users in China started sharing images of a cheery note titled “Graduation notice” reportedly issued by the company’s human resources department.
The JD.com note, which has been verified to Insider by a source, is generically addressed to an unnamed employee, or “JDer.” It reads: “Happy graduation! Congratulations for having graduated from JD.com! Thank you for the companionship!”
A similar note reportedly from video-streaming site Bilibili is titled “Bilibili Graduation Day”, and writes: “We’ve prepared this to assist you in embarking on the next phase of your career.”
Both notes then go on to list what the recipients can expect to facilitate their departure from their respective ex-employers.
A JD.com spokesperson declined to comment. Bilibili did not immediately respond to Insider’s queries.
Some social media users in China expressed disbelief at how these companies are framing the layoffs.
“Isn’t it ridiculous that you are congratulating someone that you’ve laid off?” a user wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
In recent months, several major Chinese tech companies including JD.com’s competitor Alibaba, gaming giant Tencent, and short-video app Kuaishou, have been axing thousands of employees.
Layoffs in the sector are common, but this round of job cuts comes amid Beijing’s tightening scrutiny on its homegrown tech firms. Since late 2020, China’s central government has been ratcheting up its scrutiny of labor and consumer rights issues in the sector, launched antitrust probes against tech companies, and increased oversight on data security.
“China’s largest tech companies are now in fat-trimming mode. We’ve all been expecting these layoffs,” said a Shenzhen-based tech-sector headhunter who did not wish to be named. Shenzhen has often been held up as China’s Silicon Valley.
The tech firms may be looking to find any way to put a positive spin on mass layoffs, as younger Chinese workers wonder if a career in the tech sector is worth it, news site Sixth Tone reported.
Calling the layoffs “graduation” and congratulating affected employees “seem to be some form of damage control, especially to mitigate negative backlashes from potential disgruntled employees,” said Adrian Goh, cofounder of Singapore-based recruitment portal NodeFlair which has been placing job seekers in roles at several internet companies.
“It’s the harsh reality of job redundancy masquerading as something that’s good and aspirational,” said the Shenzhen-based recruiter.
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