Utah essential oils giant doTERRA made a major cut to its workforce

The company called the layoffs part of a ‘restructuring.’

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) doTERRA, a Utah-based essential oils company, laid off nearly 300 employees Friday afternoon, according to a company spokesperson.

Pleasant Grove-based wellness company doTERRA, known for its essential oils, cut roughly 7% of its workforce — just shy of 300 people — in what the company called an “organizational restructuring” Friday afternoon, according to a company statement.

A spokesperson for doTERRA did not specify which positions were eliminated or how many employees in Utah lost their jobs. The company’s corporate headquarters in Pleasant Grove houses roughly 3,000 corporate employees, according to its website. On LinkedIn, more than two dozen Utah-based employees reported have being laid off since Friday.

Employees were first notified in a mass email Friday, according to several former employees who posted screenshots of the apparent email online. The email, sent by HR Vice President Chris Farnsworth “on behalf of” CEO Kirk Jowers, said doTERRA would begin “rightsizing” its U.S. workforce, and affected employees would get individual emails soon.

The spokesperson for doTERRA did not confirm the validity of the screenshots, several versions of which have been shared on Instagram, LinkedIn and Reddit.

Employees were offered severance packages and extended health care benefits, according to the company statement and the email screenshots.

“These difficult decisions are crucial for streamlining operations and continuing to deliver high-quality products to meet the needs of Wellness Advocates and customers around the world,” the statement said.

The layoffs follow a leadership shift at doTERRA, which purports to be a “world leader” in essential oils. Jowers was appointed CEO in February, according to a company announcement, alongside the company’s new president, Murray Smith. The former CEO and founding executive Corey Lindley retired at the end of 2023, according to the announcement, and former president/founding executive Emily Wright became chair of the board.

“I am truly honored to be entrusted with this position to serve doTERRA’s incredible Wellness Advocates,” Jowers said in a news release announcing his appointment. “I will put my whole heart into building on the foundation that the founders have laid and continuing doTERRA’s world changing vision, mission and purpose.”

According to a 2022 report from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, doTERRA is one of Utah’s largest direct selling companies. It relies on brand representatives — or “wellness advocates,” in company lingo — to sell its products, mostly essential oils, to customers. Sellers also recruit other representatives into the distribution fold and earn a cut of their recruits’ sales. The business model is commonly known as multi-level marketing.

Wellness advocates are not official company employees; the roughly 300 corporate employees affected by the “restructuring” included project managers, business analysts and marketing professionals, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

If you were affected by doTERRA’s restructuring and have more insight to share, please email ssollitt@sltrib.com.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.