Today it officially “went public” that my current employer laid off 40% of its workforce yesterday in an attempt to respond to the financial crisis surrounding most businesses in these times. In a sweeping motion, about 55 people lost their jobs … and I gotta say, it’s a sad, sad day for us all, even if these cuts don’t necessarily affect me.
I currently work for this company as an independent, so I’m not technically on their roster of employees and of course, I’m not included in the overhead of additional costs such as insurance, medical, etc. I began working for this company in January 2004 so I’ve seen it through it’s highs and lows and even barely survived previous lows when lay offs were necessary. All in all, I’ve been nothing but grateful for my chance to continue to work with them even from afar. I’ve commented on this a few times on my blog, actually.
It’s sad to watch this company go through another set of lows, this one by far the lowest valley it’s walked across since I’ve been involved with them. I know it’s not a matter of the company itself but more so, the company’s reaction to its environment. In fact, article after business article seem to echo the sentiment that things are going to get worse before they get better. There’s even an entire website dedicated to listing which companies have laid people off and how many were laid off. Check it out for some depressing statistics.
I remember my company’s highest high (that I’ve witnessed anyway) and it was in 2005 or 2006, I believe. We had just merged with another company and to commemorate that, a huge party was thrown for all of our partners during one of the biggest conventions our industry holds. To this day partners still talk about that party – the location (NYC), the food, the drinks – it was really memorable. Following that, we acquired one of the most popular brands to come out of Japan – EVER – and with that came a roller coaster ride of success. Those were good times. Because we had this NEW BRAND in our portfolio, we rubbed elbows with big wig companies in our field and were wined and dined by many just so that they could be a part of the NEW BRAND team. I look back with nostalgia because at that moment in time, it seemed we could accomplish anything (dare say, could we be the Disney of Japanese animation?) Our reality was big enough to hold our dreams.
2009 and 2010 have brought on a completely different reality that folds both the economic environment and the declining sales of our products into a burrito called LAY OFFs.
My company had a cool working environment because the people were from different walks and so many of them were these brilliant, creative minds. The people made the company brew with life. And I imagine that those who didn’t return to the office today are going to miss that the most. I know because I went through that too. Nostalgia kicks in, you feel medicated with it and for a second, you just remember all the good times, all the everyday crap you used to take for granted and even all the annoying walls you’d hit working with the bureaucracy that surrounded us. And even those who do return to the office today (aside from lucky them for having jobs) it’s a b*tch to return and see your colleagues gone. It kind of makes your heart sink, actually. Again, I know because I’ve been at both ends. I’ve had to walk away from the company, the comfort of the everyday gig, the joy of the weirdo people and I’ve also had to go into the office and look around me only to find empty seats of the former team members who once occupied them. There’s such a weird, emotional, sad and depressing feeling about layoffs and I think that it’s not about the money lost or the hassle of paperwork. If you’ve been there long enough, being removed for whatever reason, feels like being kicked out of your home. Or like someone broke up with you.
But I guess I’m looking at it through my experience and trying to understand the whole landscape of what just went down. I truly believe the people who run the company are good people and I am willing to bet that the decision to make such a drastic move didn’t come easy. For those who today are at home, searching employment websites, I offer this: the upgrade is inevitable. I hope that all those who are no longer with the company do find that moment when they look back and think “I’m glad that happened, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” [wherever ‘here’ happens to be.]
And if I knew you, my personal sentiment to you is this: whatever comes next, will be amazing.
(Now, if you happen to be stoked on all that went down, then my message to you is: carry on. Drink a beer and be on your merry way!)