California-based Grindr loses nearly half its staff to strict return-to-office rule

Grindr Inc. has lost approximately 45% of its workforce as it enforces a strict return-to-work policy, which was implemented after a majority of employees announced a plan to unionize.

The Communications Workers of America said in a statement Wednesday that about 80 of the 178 employees at the LGBTQ dating app company were forced to resign after the company in August mandated workers return to work in person two days a week at assigned “hub” offices or be fired.

The West Hollywood-based company also provided severance packages to employees who were unable to relocate, which the CWA claimed was an attempt “to silence workers from speaking out about their working conditions,” according to a statement issued by the organization. On Wednesday, the CWA filed a new labor complaint against the company, the second such complaint in about a month.

“These decisions have left Grindr dangerously understaffed and raises questions about the app’s safety, security, and stability for users,” said Erick Cortez, a member of the organizing group, in a statement. “It is clear that Grindr wants to silence workers and discourage them from exercising our right to organize, regardless of the cost.”

Grindr did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

However, CEO George Arison told investors this week at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology conference in San Francisco that more staff attrition is expected as a result of the mandate, which will be financially beneficial in the short term.

“The team will be smaller than where we were before and where we want to be,” said Arison. “So that will obviously have a positive impact on margin in the short term.” But I also believe it demonstrates that you can have a lot of leverage in this business because you don’t need a large team to do the things we need to do.”

According to Arison, the “single biggest cost” after fees paid to app distribution platforms such as Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google is staffing.

A review of LinkedIn posts by former Grindr employees reveals departures in roles ranging from iOS app development to data engineering and product strategy.

Grindr’s public spat highlights a broader conflict between employers and their employees, who are increasingly being called back to work after years of flexible work policies during the pandemic.

According to an Insider report, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy has stepped up his RTO rhetoric, telling employees who refuse to comply with the company’s mandate for in-office work three days a week that “it’s probably not going to work out for you.” AT&T Inc. informed 60,000 managers that they must report to work in person at one of nine locations, which some employees interpret as a staff-cutting measure.

According to Cushman & Wakefield research, return-to-work mandates reduce employee engagement and employees’ ability to do their best work. “Removing your employees’ freedom of choice comes at a high cost,” said Bryan Berthold, global lead of workplace experience, in an August LinkedIn post about the report.

In August, the CWA informed the National Labor Relations Board that the policy was a retaliatory response to the union drive announced by workers on July 20. According to pro-union staff, the labor organizing effort, which is still ongoing because it has yet to gain the company’s recognition, has overwhelming support among a proposed bargaining unit of around 100 employees.

Grindr raised its full-year revenue and profit margin forecasts last month, citing strong demand for its recently launched weekly subscription service and other new features. This year, the stock is up 17%.

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