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A twit, in English parlance, is a silly or foolish person. So, then a Chief Twit is?

Undoubtedly, whatever your view of Elon Musk, the man credited with building SpaceX and Tesla, the recent Twitter buyer is neither.

And yet here we are, with an individual with his intelligence, someone so focused on the future, falling into the same lazy, backwards-looking leadership trap that so many C-suiters do when it comes to their talent.

The Guardian headline says it all ‘Twitter ‘closes offices’ after Elon Musk’s loyalty oath sparks wave of resignations’.

Josh Taylor of The Guardian reported how the tech company is now struggling to retain workers after Musk demanded employees sign a pledge to work ‘long hours at high intensity’.

It’s worth reading his full article (click here) but we’ve picked out five pertinent paragraphs:

The crisis at Twitter reached a new peak on Thursday night as hundreds of employees were reported to have rejected Elon Musk’s ultimatum to keep working for the business, threatening its ability to keep operating.

#RIPTwitter, #TwitterDown, Mastodon and Myspace were all trending on the platform after the deadline passed on Musk’s ultimatum for the remaining workforce to sign up for “long hours at high intensity”, or leave. It has been estimated that hundreds of the remaining staff opted to go.

The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, raising questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of employees and prompting hurried debates among managers over who should be asked to return, current and former employees said.

“If it does break, there is no one left to fix things in many areas,” the person said, who declined to be named for fear of retribution.

A poll on Blind asked staffers to estimate what percentage of people would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of respondents estimated at least 50 percent of employees would leave.

Twitter resignations point to a wider issue

That 50 percent figure should ring alarm bells for so many companies who are yet to confront their own backward-looking talent policies.

In Cigna’s recent 360 Wellbeing Survey it was revealed that last year, in the UAE, 50 percent of employees said they were thinking about quitting their job – this year the survey returned to discover that four out of every five who indicated they would leave actually did. This year, the figure was up to 55 percent of respondents saying they intend to quit for a better work life balance, or for a better working environment.

Indeed, phrases such as ‘long hours at high intensity’ will be familiar to many of those captured in the Cigna survey, especially with the same survey showing 98 percent of respondents suffering from at least one symptom of burnout.

It’s human nature to fear change, and of course for a long, long time command and control has been easier than gaining consent, which requires empathy, the ability to inspire and a capacity to be humble.

But, it’s clear – especially viewed through the lens of the UAE where increasingly public policy is talentcentric – that an inflection point has been passed. The world of work has evolved, the ice age has come for the dinosaurs sitting in some (thankfully not all) boardrooms.

Business Insider recently reported that “overall, employees are still not coming back to the office in full force. Office occupancy rate in the US was 49 percent as of October 17, according to data from Kastle Systems, an office security firm. That’s the highest rate since the pandemic started, but still far from an almost 100 percent attendance in early March 2020 before the pandemic, the data indicated.”

Musk isn’t the only highflier to be trapped his limiting beliefs about talent, Goldman Sachs’ CEO David Solomon demanded talent return to the office. This was followed days later by headlines such as Fortune Magazine’s ‘Goldman Sachs’ CEO demanded all employees return full-time to the office. Only half showed up’. To date they are running at about 65 percent back, but it’s not about who is sitting in their office chairs, it’s about who isn’t.

At the recent CNBC Work Summit PwC’s U.S. chairman Tim Ryan said: “The talent war is over. Talent won.

He told the summit in October: “Ultimately, what humans are telling us is they want choice. If we’re willing to redesign the way we do work, we can get the talent and get the work done and do it on our employees’ terms, which leads to better outcomes.

“It’s a different way of thinking and a fundamental, different skill that should drive better outcomes … [and] a happier, more engaged workforce.

“Happier, more satisfied people will do better work for their clients, if they’re feeling better about themselves.”

Ryan articulates an ethos we feel passionately here at mentl – that the ROI of leaning into compassion and creating work environments where talent thrive outweighs that of leading by fear.

In short, company bosses can no longer demand loyalty, they have to earn it moving forward.

If they do, they might just capture some of that ‘high intensity’ which engaged talent delivers.

If they don’t, well, they are twits.