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Massive Layoffs Pummle Tech Companies As The Storm Rages

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This past week was an absolute bonkers way to enter into the new year.

The wackadoodle vote to find a leader for The House of Representatives could have been enough craziness in the news but we were graced with added bonuses. Additional layoffs were announced by tech giants with close to 28K people impacted all while we were all drenched in rain which created massive flooding, trees down and contributed to multiple casualties.

The storms captured striking scenes. A
sinkhole engulfed an entire SUV in Daly City, waves larger than we’ve ever seen before on the coast, massive trees down covering multiple lanes of traffic, people paddling surfboards down flooded city streets, and lines of cars trying to get through a massive puddle on the freeway with a wish and a prayer that their car can go into boat-mode. While it wasn’t as wet as some of us expected, the storms did bring the forecasted chaos with them.

Sinkhole takes down an entire SUV and Boebert heckling Biden was just part of the craziness this week.

Meanwhile, for many people the main source of chaos wasn’t the natural disaster surrounding them. This week, Slack, Stitch Fix and Amazon collectively laid off tens of thousands of employees globally. Jobs lost range across all categories from corporate desktop jobs to warehouse positions. These are adding to a growing list of layoffs at other giants like Meta, Twitter, Snap and Vimeo from recent months. It seems that over and over and over again we hear about these layoffs. 

You can draw a parallel to them and the storms outside. Coming in over and over again, destroying things in their wake and we’re left a little more broken and worried about what’s to come. 

Now that we remember what rain looks like, what do we do with it?

However, during a storm, we can often gather with friends and stay cozy inside. We can potentially find wholesome moments of togetherness. It can feel scary but we’re in it together in some ways.

When you’re let go from a company it’s a whole different story. Silently, alone, while the storm ranged outside, thousands of people shut their work laptop for the last time. No hug goodbye, no box to pack with all of their desk belongings, no one giving you a pep talk to reassure you that you’re amazing despite it all, no goodbye cheers or happy hour to celebrate your contribution… mostly, a Slack message to say “I’m sorry this happened to you”.

When you’re in a company that is struggling, you can see a metaphorical storm brewing just off the coast. You can prepare yourself, brace yourself, or let everyone know what the best thing to do might be. But many of those impacted don’t have a loud enough voice to change the course and right the ship so the problems keep coming and the storm brews louder. All you can do is either jump ship or prepare for the worst.

Salesforce layoffs are global and not isolated to the Bay Area

I was working for a tech company more recently that had a layoff over the summer. I was spared. Those of us who were left had to shoulder the extra weight and we were told to “buckle our seat belts” when we would raise concerns that the overtime was not sustainable. Most of us were worried that we would be next if there was a layoff and were repeatedly told that there wouldn’t be another layoff even though we could all see the second storm coming. After months of working 60 hour weeks, my mental health suffered and I decided that it was officially time for me to leave.

My story is common these days. So common that we find ourselves finding solace knowing so many people are going through something similar. And we can empathize with folks who have stayed at places like Twitter with a CEO who has seemingly lost his marbles for good. When you’re a remote employee, you can almost more easily compartmentalize the trauma in a toxic work environment and stay for longer than you should.

I often asked myself why I waited months before I left. To live in The Bay Area, it’s expensive and hard to stay afloat. Even if you have a double income household, it’s hard to save for retirement let alone save for a rainy day when you may lose your job. There’s pressure and stress to keep on keepin’ on. Jumping to another spot also doesn’t guarantee safety. Some wonder if waiting it out is the answer. Is it easier to stay than jump ship?

The entire ecosystem of the company and how it impacts others inside and outside of work is rattled by a layoff. Even if you survive a layoff, you still wonder… “Why me? That person was so great and I don’t know why they kept me over them?” That survivor’s guilt they talk about is real.

I’ve heard from a few people who have recently been laid off from these companies. Beyond the shock, there’s a mixed bag of emotions. While it’s somewhat a relief to be outside of the storm and on a severage package safety raft of sorts, there are still many feelings that come along with the loss of a job. Uncertainty, self-doubt, confusion, uneasiness, and maybe even some forms of anger.

“That uncertainty stays with us. It happened once and it could happen again. It just kind of changes your mindset around work.,” Mikaela Kiner, CEO of Seattle HR consultancy firm Reverb says in an article within Geekwire.

Where will we see the biggest impact of these layoffs?

Any layoff has an extreme impact on their mental health and self worth. Studies show that those who are laid off from their jobs are at risk of anxiety and extreme depression. 

We’re in weird times. We don’t have the same goodbyes when leaving a job anymore. We have to rely on our personal connections more to help move through the phases of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There are lists and lists of what to do if it happens to you. They might help to give you an action plan. I like this plan by NPR which highlights ways to cut back on spending afterward as well as ways to move forward. They go into more details but some of their suggestions are:

•  Cut yourself some slack
•  Share the news far and wide
•  File for unemployment asap
•  Ask your creditors for a break, no matter how brief
•  Schedule those doctor appointments asap

What’s not listed, and in my opinion more important now than ever, is that we create connections with others as we lose them. I wonder what a world in the bay area looks like with more connectedness and wholesome ways to be part of a community that isn’t going to kick you out when a storm hits and will hand you a life preserver when you need it the most.

What’s ahead for layoffs and the wacky weather?

As far as layoffs, I think we can expect to see some more in 2023 for sure. NPR cited data that says, “One in 3 companies expects to lay off 30% or more of their workforce in 2023, according to a December survey of 1,000 business leaders by Resume Builder.” Let’s brace ourselves for more layoffs to come. They may not all impact us in The Bay Area but they will be something that creates collective unease.

There is some good news. Unemployment is still at a record low. And, the job market is pretty solid right now with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics saying that 66% of workers will likely find a new job in less than 15 weeks. Not sure if this is comforting, but not all of these jobs will impact our economy in The Bay since these positions are all over the globe. 

As far as our lovely weather we’re having? Today, Friday, we’re expected to have a beautiful day. Soak in that sun while you can. But the rain will be here again soon enough and the chaos will come with it. Best for us to enjoy the sunshine for a brief moment until we find ourselves drenched again.

To track how many layoffs are happening, The SF Standard has compiled a list here.

If you or someone you know has been laid off and may need help because they are struggling with their mental health during this time, please contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255, dial 988 is a 24-7 suicide hotline is toll-free and available to anyone in emotional or suicidal distress, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741, anytime.

Photo of fog passing by the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.

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