by Meridith Levinson

What’s With All the Layoffs?

Jun 01, 20073 mins

It’s been a busy week for corporate america, what with all the workers that employers are laying off.

On Wednesday, IBM gave out pink slips to 1,573 employees in its services unit. The layoff is part of IBM’s ongoing restructuring of its services business. In early May the company cut 1,315 Global Services employees.

Also on Wednesday, Motorola announced it would be laying off 4,000 workers as part of the mobile phone company’s search for profits. This, after announcing in January that it would cut 3,500 jobs by June 2007.

Yesterday, Dell announced it was shedding 10 percent of its workforce. With 88,100 employees, that’s almost 9,000 workers who’ll be out of a job some time over the next 12 months.

These numbers are staggering. Aren’t these companies already running pretty lean? Haven’t we all been doing more with less since the economic downturn that followed 9/11? 

One thing that’s notable about these layoffs is that they’re happening at a time when the economy isn’t in bad shape and when most companies are hiring and fighting each other for talent. Labor Department data  released today showed that 157,000 new jobs were created in May–27,000 more than were expected.  I guess that testifies to how profoundly screwed up the companies named above are.

What gets me is the way companies continue to effectively blame their mismanagement and their inability to achieve their financial goals on their employees: Can’t make your numbers? Fire a bunch of your workers! All of those companies are cutting jobs to improve their profit margins. Employees continually get the short end of the corporate strategy stick.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that even when the economy is good, no job is secure. No employee is safe. That’s scary. It seems like every couple of years–if not every couple of quarters–companies are reorganizing and restructuring to pursue some new strategy or market opportunity. I suppose they have to in order to be nimble, react quickly and survive. But the toll this corporate flexibility takes on the average American worker and their sense of stability is incalculable. There’s no such thing as stability anymore–for companies or their employees.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Duh, job security went out of fashion with 8-track tapes and fondue parties in the 1980s.”  I realize that, but as a creature of comfort and stability, I have trouble accepting this new work order, and I know I’m not alone.

Given all the recent and past layoffs, do you live in constant fear of losing your job? If not in constant fear, do you go to work every day with the understanding that your company could cut you loose at any moment? How do you deal with that knowledge and uncertainty? How does that affect the way you do your job? I could certainly use some advice. Please share your thoughts below.