View Full Version : Layoffs Suck, Even For Those Left Behind
01-26-2006, 09:59 PM
Last week I vented (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=7003409#post7003409) a little about some current sources of stress, one of which was impending layoffs at my company (we're a software company, and recently lost a big contract that we've had for many years). At 3pm today I found out that the first of the layoffs will be happening tomorrow.
Affected employees got an e-mail this afternoon asking them to attend a meeting tomorrow morning with senior management to discuss the recent "funding shortfalls": my officemate of nearly 5 years got the e-mail, as did a guy I'm interested in and have been becoming friends with, and so did the guy who was my boss when I started at the company. When the latter went to talk with our Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) after getting the e-mail, the CPO -- also a guy, and old friends with my old boss -- got a little choked up, and said that tomorrow is going to be a very difficult day.
Our company is relatively small, they really do see us as people and not numbers, and it's the first time layoffs have been necessary in the 19 years the company has been in business. So while of course it will be hardest on the people losing their jobs, it's also very hard on our founders/directors and on the managers who have to deliver this news. And it's hard for those of us "left behind," too: not only did I feel kind of guilty today about having work to do and being happy with my project,* but I spent the afternoon watching my officemate clean out her desk. I even helped her carry some stuff out to her car; she'll box up the rest tomorrow after the meeting. We don't know for sure that tomorrow will be the last day for those who got the e-mail, but it's a small office with an active grapevine and everyone's expecting that to be the case. I just can't imagine being there on Monday and seeing an empty desk and a half-empty bookcase. While of course I will keep in touch with her, and I'll stay friends with the guy I like, it just won't be the same as seeing them every day. I don't even know yet which other friends of mine got the e-mail.
I've never been at a company during layoffs before. I knew it would suck, but I didn't realize how much it would suck. Just needed to vent a little more specifically now that this is actually happening.
* In the other thread a few people suggested that I get my resume out, and I'll just copy and paste what I posted there: Despite this setback my company is still a great place to work, I don't want to leave, and my project manager has assured me that my job is not in danger. I know that I'm leaving myself open for a slew of "I never thought it would happen to me" layoff stories, but seriously: I really have no desire to leave, and while we are going to lose a writer or two they've already been identified (and given a heads-up). So please, no lectures along these lines. Thanks.
01-27-2006, 05:59 AM
Sorry for the whole situation. Sounds like you have a good employer, though. Good thoughts for you and your friends and coworkers.
01-27-2006, 06:30 AM
I work for a fairly large company, around 3000 employees. During my five years with the firm, there have been two large layoffs, ten per cent of the staff the first time, and five per cent the second time. The layoffs included executives up to senior VPs. From what I've been able to observe, these things are traumatic for all concerned. For a non-manager like me, there has been survivor's guilt and sympathy for those affected. I've seen decision-makers who were clearly hurt by what they had to do, and really talented people devastated by the news of their dismissal. In the case of my company, the pain was eased a bit by reasonable severance packages. I know of several people who were working at higher salaries well before the severance money ran out. I hope that something similar happens to you coworkers. Keep your chin up. There will be some sad and unproductive days as coworkers disappear. The good news is that the market for software jobs in your area is pretty healthy right now, from what I hear.
01-27-2006, 06:37 AM
We went through "surprise! You don't work here any more!" layoffs last year and boy, yeah. Tough all round. (I was among the not-layed-off. Hello, survivor guilt!) It's good that you still feel positive about the company and that you feel that they're handling it respectfully. It's OK to feel angry anyway. Things may be weird for a few months. Keep your chin up! I really hadn't been through layoffs before either and the thing that got me through most was that our department did everything possible on a personal level to help the people leaving with career networking. We were allowed to put other things on hold long enough to make all the calls we needed, round up our contact lists of recruiters or people who might be able to help, and do what we could to get those people placements. I think with management who, and it sounds like this is the case in your company, really care about the people leaving and the people left behind, where there's real, genuine compassion, and understanding that there will be a grieving process, things can be OK. Miserable, but OK.
01-27-2006, 10:51 AM
Man, that sucks.
I'm imagining what you're feeling right now - we're a small software company of a dozen employees total, with the owner/boss extremely active in the company, and we're all friends. We've just been sold to another company though, and our IT guy has the feeling that, since they only bought us for the software/programmers, he's going to be axed soon.
He started me doing some more serious mountain bike riding with him, and we take a trip to the local convenience store every other day. :(
01-27-2006, 01:42 PM
I've been on both sides of that equation in the last year. And it is difficult on both sides to be sure, but I'd rather have survivor's guilt than how-the-fuck-do-I-pay-my-mortgage-and-feed-my-kids guilt.
01-27-2006, 02:02 PM
My company just did layoffs this week. It sucks.
01-27-2006, 02:20 PM
I was laid off two days ago from a job Iíve had for 25 years. I went in to work and was told I had 24 hours from notification to pack and return in my key. It's a small library with only 9 employees. So most of the people were my friends. I know that they are upset and angry about what happened. They've all told me to call them and we'll do something together. But I can see that these friendships won't last because we all let our lives center around this job, soon we'll have a hard time finding something to talk about. But at least they still have each other. Iím lost.
01-27-2006, 03:40 PM
We have an all-hands conference call in 10 days :(
01-27-2006, 10:05 PM
Thanks for all of the replies, everyone -- my heart goes out to those of you experiencing this right now. As much as things suck for me at the moment, I'm quite aware that at least I'm keeping my job.
The good news from today is that my officemate did not get laid off: there is someone completely incompetent in her division who was going to be keeping her job while my officemate lost hers, but a friend (who is my new hero) raised holy hell with one of the directors and got the situation reversed! :eek: So now my officemate (who is extremely competent and has been with the company more than 5 years) is staying while the incompetent (who has been here about 6 months) has been laid off. Sometimes things do work out the way they should. The last day has been a hell of an emotional rollercoaster for my officemate, though.
Everyone who got laid off was given the option of staying through the end of next week, coupled with severance packages. A few people chose to make today their last day, including the guy who was my first boss at the company. He left this morning, actually; I'm so glad I was able to give him a hug and say "goodbye" and "thank you" before he left. The guy I'm interested in will be staying for the week, and we spent a big chunk of time together today. I think we'll be able to transition to a real-life friendship, but every extra day of working together will help.
All told, 24 people (out of 200) were laid off today. My friend in HR says they made such a big cut in hopes of it being the only one. I still don't know all of the names, but I think I've heard about most. I talked with several managers and two of our HR folks at different points throughout the day, and almost everyone said that this was the worst day of their career. :(
Morale will be in the dumper next week, but in a way it's a relief to have the announcements over and to know exactly who was affected.
01-28-2006, 12:10 AM
Five years ago, I got back to work after Labor Day weekend, to a surprise meeting with my boss, the director, and some outplacement lady. She was the only one who'd meet my eyes. It was a very small, not-for-profit with < 100 people; 9 of us were downsized. It was a kick in the gut, mostly because these people I'd worked with had known and not only dropped no warning, but felt so shamed they wouldn't even talk about it while I was there. I left about 15 minutes after that meeting.
Best damn thing that ever happened to my career. Really.
I suspect your soon-to-be ex-coworkers will want to vent about it. Let them; they're not wanting to punish you and make you feel guilty, they just need someone to listen who understands. And don't feel so guilty -- it's a shock, but it can work out okay, if not better, for them.
Oddly, when I got my current job, they downsized two months later, after a decade of no layoffs. I was last in the company, but not affected for some reason. Nonetheless, having just gone through that, it was easier for me to cope. (plus I didn't know most of them yet)
And if you want to stay in touch with ex-coworkers, I recommend making a planned date -- lunch every other month, or something. Otherwise you find you stay in touch at first, but eventually drift apart until all you get are holiday card updates.
02-03-2006, 01:25 PM
Today is everyone's last day. There have been a slew of "farewell" e-mails, and we took the writer & graphic artist we're losing out to lunch. I'm a little more sad than I expected to be.
02-03-2006, 01:28 PM
Expect a pit thread from me on this subject next week.
02-03-2006, 02:59 PM
I worked for 13 years at a small place I only left for medical reasons. I love the owners. There's nothing like being the one employee that isn't a setup supervisor being laid off. Everyone you see is upset, and your thinking "They're pissed with me.". I hope things pick up for you, and wish you better days ahead.
02-03-2006, 04:25 PM
I've been in the corporate world for nearly 30 years, 4 different employers, and have been through (although not impacted by) layoffs in all of them. I hate, hate, HATE it.
And it's never been because of losing the big account; it's just been a "time to trim expenses" BS.
Each time it happens, I feel like I've cheated the Reaper one more time. I feel like my career has been like running an obstacle course, and can I make it to the retirement finish line without falling in a hole and winding up in some poorhouse/debtor's prison.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.