The other week my cat was talking to his girlfriend, you may remember her, Jazz. It appears that Jazz had a note on her desk when she got back to work from lunch the other day (See the picture on the left). She was, you could say: distressed.
After this happened, my cat, Jazz, and I sat down for a cup of coffee, yeah, that’s it: coffee. We discussed the events that led up to her being laid off, and she said her boss made a point to make sure it wasn’t anything she had done, it was “just the way it is.” During our conversations, it was noted that this is the second time she had been laid off around Christmas. After a couple of nervous laughs; we decided to dig into this a little more. Was it her? Is it common to lay off people around Christmas? Why Christmas?
Jazz said it was a blow to her ego to have it happen to her not just once, but twice. The first time she was laid off she felt humiliated, upset, and angry. Like it or not, she explained, there is a stigma of failure attached to being laid off. But you weren’t fired, you were laid off I exclaimed. It doesn’t matter, she went on, there is still humiliation and a feeling of…..defeat, of failure.
Not this time she said. Why, my cat asked. It was, as she described it, a reminder that we, no matter what we may think; are not in control. Having this happen at this time of year only reinforces her belief that bigger things are yet to come, an opportunity for greatness? One has to be challenged to grow; and what better challenge then having to reinvent yourself mid-career? Christmas is the time for joy and hope. Joy and hope cannot be taken from you, you have to surrender them.
We got back on track to answer the questions:
- Was it her? No, it wasn’t her. Her boss assured her of that. She said that “you could actually feel his discomfort when he gave the group the news, he really is a good guy.” They were having a problem with one of their customers and had to cut expenses. So most of the group that she belonged to got “rightsized.” It was just business; and most understood.
- Is it common to lay off people around Christmas? We were surprised to find that is relatively “common” for companies that end their year on December 31. The two most common months for layoffs are December and January. Jazz exclaimed to my cat “that really sucks! You’re in for either a really slim Christmas or panic on how to pay the Christmas debt! Either way; both months suck.”
- Why Christmas? There was a question asked on Quora.com: Why do companies lay off people right before Christmas? There is an answer by Mr. Aron Solomon. He states that it is fiscally sound to trim the fat. At the same time, it is foolish to lay off people around their major holidays (In western countries, this would be Christmas). There is never a “good” time to be laid off, it just sucks. There are a number of reasons not to conduct lay-offs in December:
- He opens his article with: There is practically nothing that a business can do to engender more ill will than to fire employees right before Christmas.
- It’s “penny wise and pound foolish” because the harm done to the decision makers reputations and the overall organization generally outweigh the savings.
- Very few companies are serious about hiring from late November through the end of December. As such, it deprives the laid off person of six weeks of quality job search time.
Jazz isn’t worried. She believes that the Big Kahuna wouldn’t give here something she couldn’t handle. She has saved for rainy days (a lesson learned the last time she was laid off), and she keeps us laughing. She will overcome. She has no ill-will towards her boss, the business in general: as her boss told her; “it’s just the way it is.” And she’s OK with that. You can see the twinkle in her eye when she talks of her co-workers, you can tell she misses them.
There is a good article on CNet, an interview with a person who performed a massive layoff. It is insightful as to the thought processes of the company leader who has to keep the company a sustainable business. As he states, “My obligation is to the company, and I’ve got to think about how I can create something sustainable for everybody, and worry about the jobs we still have here as well the jobs we have to cut.” I think that sums it up best. Jazz thought that was a pretty cool statement, If she refuses to give up, she has to succeed.
I just hope that, if in similar circumstances, I can weather the storm as well as she is.