Elon Musk has had the HR week from hell.
First, the world’s richest man gave employees of Austin-based automaker Tesla an ultimatum: Work in the office or find a job elsewhere. Two days later came another bombshell: Citing fears about the economy, Musk declared that Tesla is cutting 10 percent of its salaried workforce and is putting a freeze on hiring.
Both moves generated tons of buzz on social media and triggered a wave of criticism.
The Reuters news service reported June 3 that in an email, Musk, the head honcho at Tesla, told workers he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and the company needed to slash 10 percent of its salaried workforce.
While the ranks of salaried employees at Tesla has become “overstaffed in many areas,” Musk wrote, the number of hourly workers will actually go up.
As of late 2021, Tesla employed about 100,000 people worldwide. It’s unclear how many of those employees work in Austin and how the edict will affect hiring at Tesla’s local headquarters or its new factory here.
Word of the workforce reduction came two days after Musk fired off a no-holds-barred companywide email ordering Tesla employees to return to the office, rather than working remotely.
“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” Musk wrote in the internal email. “Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”
In an earlier email, Musk noted that the office where a Tesla employee works must make sense. For instance, a Tesla worker handling HR at the company’s manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, shouldn’t be located in another state.
“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk wrote. “That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”
As of June 3, Forbes estimated Musk’s net worth at $219.7 billion. He derives his wealth from ventures such as Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Co. The billionaire is in the midst of trying to buy the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion.