Monday, December 15, 2008

Not All Lay-offs are the Same

Four thoughts about lay-offs:

1. Last week I heard that a good friend of mine was finally let go from Citigroup where he worked for the past 7 years. He had survived several rounds of lay-offs, but his number was finally up when his entire group was axed last week. I guess that there are some lay-offs you simply cannot escape. Or are there? Knowing that the risk level was high, my friend began networking internally months ago, trying to find islands of relative safety within the troubled bank. Even in badly beaten Citigroup there are groups and divisions that are doing well and making money, and those groups are still hiring. Although he does not yet know whether he will be saved by a last minute move to another group - my friend has two likely leads, and may be able to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper for a while longer. He should know in the next couple of weeks.

2. Laying people off during the holidays sucks big time. It's just not right. I know that businesses are struggling and I sympathize with management teams that are doing everything in their power to save their companies, but laying people off a week or two before the holidays should be done only as a very last resort...

3. Speaking of which, my former company also went through a 10% lay-off last week, which only goes to show you that big and mid-size companies like my former employer, do not necessarily offer employees more job security than smaller companies like my current start-up. People knew that this lay-off was coming about a week in advance, and pretty much everyone knew in ahead of time who was going to go. It just goes to show you that lay-offs are NOT arbitrary. The writing is typically on the wall long before any pink slips are handed out.

4. Not all lay-offs are the same. In this post I mentioned two companies that went through lay-offs. Citigroup and my former company - a Silicon Valley high tech company which shall remain nameless. My friend who was laid-off at Citigroup, received a 6 month severance package. He will not be out on the street any time soon (he is highly talented and will certainly recover quickly anyway, but the cash certainly helps). Some of my former colleagues fared far worse. For example, one of them, after 10 years of service was given only 8 weeks in severance pay. That's not right. It just goes to show you - it's important to know which company to get laid-off by...

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