The last year has seen a number of large tech companies lay off large numbers of staff. The list for 2023 includes large companies, like Google (12,000), Amazon (9,000 this time), Microsoft (10,000), and Meta (10,000 this time), but also small companies like Zoom (1,300), Rapid (115), and Roku (200). It's not just tech companies, however, as Disney (7,000), Gap (500), 3M (6,000), and David's Bridal (9,236) are letting people go. There are plenty of other companies who have let people go, which is interesting to me as the economy has grown in the US, though profits were down. It's hard to know whether these layoffs are really important for all these companies or whether these layoffs are management's decision to group their bad news with everyone else's and take advantage of the opportunity to shrink labor costs.
In any case, layoffs are sad and stressful. Certainly, the people being let go are traumatized and I don't want to minimize the impact to their lives, but this can be hard for the survivors as well. This isn't just a Silicon Valley situation, but one that affects many employees all over the world. Whenever there is a large staffing change in an organization, those that remain can be traumatized and unproductive. This is one reason that public companies must notify and disclose layoffs to investors.
This article looks at how some tech company employees react after surviving a layoff, and it reminds me of some of the layoffs I've been through. While I haven't been let go in a layoff, I have had to deal with the aftermath of some friends losing their employment while other friends try to cope. I've felt sad, angry, upset, concerned, frustrated, and more. Even as one of the lucky people that kept their jobs, I found myself unable to cope with the changes on the fateful day and for some time after. I struggled to focus during the next few weeks, while also being stressed as I realized the workload grew unexpectedly. There was still lots of work, but less staff to do it.
Anytime you survive a layoff, I think it's natural to question whether you want to continue working in the same organization. Is business that bad that we need to let people go? Will there be another layoff? Is our leadership actually doing a good job or have they made mistakes by hiring unnecessary people? Am I unnecessary? Are managers appeasing investors who care more about their return or even worried about their own bonuses? All of these thoughts swirl through my head and others' heads as we move forward. I don't want you to feel bad here, but to think about your situation as someone that might get laid off or survive one.
Most of us don't experience layoffs, and if we do, it's not often that these happen. However, they are always possible, which is why I advocate for all of you to keep learning, regularly grow your skills, keep your resume up to date, and be aware of how your organization is operating. It's good to work as if you'll continue in this position (if you enjoy it), but my motto is: hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Of course, if you don't like your job, you should be working to find another one. The best time to find a new job is while you already have one.