Vishal Garg, the CEO of online mortgage lender Better.com, has officially returned to work after taking a hiatus in December when he was criticised for firing more than 900 employees by video chat.
In a letter sent to Better.com employees and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the company’s board of directors announced Garg’s return, saying he had reflected on his leadership style and received executive coaching during his time off.
“We are confident in Vishal and in the changes he is committed to making to provide the type of leadership, focus and vision that Better needs at this pivotal time,” it said.
The board also said the company’s leadership would be expanded to include a board chairman, a president and a chief of human resources.
Last December, Garg, who founded Better.com in 2016, fired more than 900 of his employees over Zoom video chat. The footage of the mass layoffs was posted online and seen by millions.
During the call, Garg began by telling employees: “This isn’t news you’re going to want to hear”, and informed them they “are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off”.
Following the mass dismissals, Garg went on to accuse his employees of “stealing” from the company by being unproductive, according to Fortune, which confirmed Garg made his comments from an anonymous account on a professional network site.
“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while closing in 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system,” he wrote. “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills.”
Following the firings call, Garg held an additional video call with the company’s remaining employees where he warned them that their productivity would be watched. Staff members present at the meeting called his tone “harsh and threatening”.
The company responded to the ensuing outcry by announcing Garg would be taking time away from his CEO position, and calling in consultants to address company culture and leadership.
Garg also posted a separate apology, saying he “failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected.
“I own the decision to do the layoffs,” Garg said. “But in communicating it, I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”