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The Long Wait Layoff

Posted by: Jena McGregor on December 22, 2008

There’s been some interesting stories online today, both at the New York Times and here at BusinessWeek, about companies that are trying to cut costs in ways other than resorting to layoffs. Some are trimming salaries of employees. Others are having unpaid holiday shutdowns. Meanwhile, a few companies are testing out four-day work weeks to trim everyone’s work hours a little. (I’ve got to wonder how that works in most professional jobs and knowledge-sector companies, where there’s hardly such a thing as nine-to-five or weekdays and weekends anymore.)

But most companies, it seems, are going straight to layoffs without passing go. Announcements like the one Motorola made in October that it plans to layoff 3000 workers in the next two quarters feel like they come every single day.

The most striking ones, in my mind, are job cuts like the ones Bank of America and Hewlett-Packard have announced. Not for their size so much—though they are big, with BofA promising 35,000 cuts and HP another 24,000—but for their tenure. Both companies have said they’ll make the job reductions over the next three years, an eternity when it comes to staff morale.

It’s hard enough to stay focused on getting a job done well when layoffs are imminent—when you know they’re going to happen in the next week, the next month, the next quarter. But living with the reality of impending layoffs for three years strikes me as a morale killer only the most staunch corporate soldier can survive. Is it really the best move to announce layoffs years before they happen?

Reader Comments


December 23, 2008 8:53 AM

Layoffs over the next three years...that is Reverse Darwinism waiting to happen. Over the next three years the strongest and best will leave before the ax falls, while the weakest and least competent will remain.

Better to do it in one stroke and assure the survivors no more layoofs are coming.


January 8, 2009 12:16 AM

People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day's news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And is providing you that platform.


January 19, 2009 9:22 AM

Everyone is expecting recession getting over soon. I have a very close friend, who graduated from Harvard. Worked for ML for over 8 years, recently he’s been “right sized” too, despite of his outstanding performance and the increasing revenue he generated. OMG, now the banking industry is badly hurt, how long it would take for those financial background guys like him get back to the job market. Banking jobs are not there as much as before as easily seen on and other job sites in the region

JR Management

October 18, 2009 4:53 PM

This recession is going to last longer than many anticipate.

It's not looking good for most people.

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