There have been job cuts left, right and center, particularly in the field of technology and information technology, with companies throwing out people in droves. Cognizant will lay off 6,000 employees. According to reports, the number could go as far as 10,000. The company is struggling in the information technology (IT) sector. Congnizant says employees are removed for non-performance. Cognizant has roughly 2,60,200 employees across the world, of whom 1,88,000 or around 72% are based in India. Snapdeal is laying off 600 people and there are many job cuts announced every day.
I write from my experiences of an IT-cum-publishing company that I worked for and which faced a similar situation and which was taken over by Springer. I write for the scores of my brethren who are on the verge of losing jobs. In most cases, they would be the only earning member of family and their families depend on their income for sustenance. My heart goes out to them who look forward to a bleak future. I have a few words of advice for the helpless employees.
First of all, the biggest casualty in any such situation is obviously productivity—no matter how you perform the end result is going to be the same, so don’t think about it. Moreover, how can you be expected to concentrate on your job there is a sword hanging on your head? How will you not be anxious if you are not sure if you would be sitting in the same chair in front of the same system for the same company tomorrow? It’s just not possible.
Second, the situation is ripe for rumors to fly thick and fast. Don’t ignore them, listen to them—my experience says 70% of it would be true. If you don’t want to believe them, then the next trust-able source is the media. If they are saying something, it would probably be true. If not them, then talk about the difficult situation with your experienced colleagues, particularly those who have worked in several places—they probably have an idea of how managements work. If that doesn’t work go follow your gut feeling. If everything fails, then last and the least, trust what your management says but always keep in mind they will not tell the truth. For them there is a PR and profit exercise and the image has to be preserved.
Fabulous as it may sound, it has actually happened with me. In my previous workplace, when layoffs were planned, the management never came clean on whether it was going to happen. Everybody was talking about it but there was no official word from the company. That was the first phase. They always said they would retain people till the very last. The top management would take regular sessions to trash the so-called “baseless reports of layoffs”.
Why did the company do that? It’s simple. They knew that if word got out, people would lose interest their current assignments. The idea is to get the current assignments completed and then come out with the layoff announcement like a jolt out of the blue, like a guillotine. They wanted to ensure that workers didn’t start leaving mid-way.
After the projects were over, they suddenly tightened norms. All breaks have to be entered in registers. Employees can’t go together for breaks. People were hauled up even if they were a minute late. If someone went to the washroom more than twice he was hauled up. All this despite, a hugely reduced workflow. All of this was aimed at forcing people to leave. Employees were transferred to all departments, burdened with work they had no idea about. Every day was like entering into a new company.
Then came another phase, when managers would summon employees and ask if they have been appearing for interviews and scolded them if they didn’t—all this despite no word from top management. Perhaps, the bonus of managers depended on how many employees they were able to push out. But why was this happening, one may ask? Because the company wanted to pay severance package to as few as possible.
Most of us started looking and shifted. Some others were more headstrong. They stood their ground. Despite being hauled up, they stuck and finally when the company saw that they wouldn’t move it finally fired them summarily, that is, in one day with a severance package of three months. The others less fortunate, like us, had exited the company only a couple of days before and were made to pay. The few who got their severance package celebrated that day and went to big restaurants and splurged—they had a check in their hands!
Moral of the story, stick your ground and think for yourself because nobody is going to thing about you. If I were in any of these companies, I would start planning my moves soon and know where recruiting and hiring is going on, contact various human resource departments and send them CVs. There is no knowing what tomorrow may bring. Start looking for opportunities—give interviews or the time will come when the management will start asking you if you have been appearing for interviews. The choice is yours.