This Mumbai-based interaction designer at a tech firm, still remembers tearing up after receiving an official email from his HR department few months ago: “Due to massive restructuring in the organisation, your services are no longer needed. Your one-month notice period has started.” The father of two, who doesn't wish to be named, had just completed a year at the job.
“My wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was in the middle of a doctor’s appointment with her when I received the email. I didn’t know how to react, what to think and how to deal with the situation,” recalls the 35-year-old. “I had been getting the feelers for a while, a couple of months actually. My wife and I had decided that I should look out and move on, but the plans went on hold with her health problems.”
What continues to anger him is that “they didn’t empathise with what my family and I were going through.”
While he has managed to find work since, the pain of being laid off continues to haunt him. And he isn’t the only one hit hard with the lay-off. In the past few weeks, many companies, from Meta and Twitter to Byju’s, have given thousands of people pink slips, with little to no advance notice, for several reasons.
A couple of months ago, a Bengaluru-based public relations manager returned to her job after a maternity break. Some weeks later, her manager called the 31-year-old and told her that she will soon receive an email, stating she was no longer a part of the organisation.
“I was a diligent employee, very ambitious, driven,” she says, holding back her tears. “In the middle of becoming a mother, grappling with financial and personal distress, and multiple adjustments that I had to make, this was a huge blow.” She has since found a job.
Both these professionals agree that receiving the pink slip comes as a shock, even if you are aware that your company is finding ways to do cost cutting to make up for poor revenue growth, bad management decisions or unconducive markets. “I knew that the organisation wasn’t doing well, but there should have been some official discussion around the fact that employees were going to be fired and given enough notice period. This whole situation makes you extremely anxious about your future and hurts your self-confidence,” says the Bengaluru res, who’s now working at another IT company.
The decision makers
An HR manager at a hiring firm says that while taking such decisions isn’t easy for any organisation, the reasons for doing so are multiple. “Organisations at times don’t know when to let go. They keep sustaining redundant and poorly performing verticals for way too long, without reviewing them. At times, it is too late to shut the entire vertical down but it needs to be done. In some other cases, for achieving targets, a lot of resources are hired but then the profits aren’t equivalent.”
She adds that often the projections are unrealistic, and in some other cases, resources become redundant as some employees cannot keep up with the industry’s changing trends. “For instance, a magazine journalist is used to writing longform content, and if the print magazine decides to shut down and focus more on digital, then he will be asked to leave, as the organisation may need a digital content writer.” She also says that often experienced resources reach a “growth ceiling” and become too comfortable, “not adding any value to the organisation, and then have to be let go.”
An assistant HR manager at another organisation shares some more insight into why companies take such a harsh decision: “With start-ups, funding is available but not spent and allocated well. Start-up founders may be intelligent and smart, but sometimes they aren’t great leaders and end up misusing the funds, eventually leading them to shut shop.”
With large conglomerates, he says the reasons may vary. “It could be aggressive hiring to expand, which might lead to bench hiring, or decisions made by stakeholders to maintain profitability in volatile markets and non-conducive environments,” he says. “Sometimes the reason may also be entering non-profitable markets only to realise that those geographies don’t work for the organisation.”
The expert talk
Experts insist that getting a pink slip doesn’t mean that one’s career growth will be stunted or has come to an end, but it can instantly impact a person’s mental, physical and emotional health.
Shevantika Nanda, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Mimblu, an Indian text-based mental health app, says, “Initially, people experience shock and grief, and even the feeling of rejection. But one must realise that we are currently in a difficult economic climate, which means this is a sad reality for a lot of people. Reminding yourself you are not alone might be a helpful way of processing the news.”
Mangaluru-based Krithishree Somanna, consultant psychiatrist at KMC Hospital, adds that job loss is not just the loss of income, but it is also the loss of status, routine, social network and a sense of security.
To deal with such a situation, Moulika Mandal, assistant professor (psychology), at Pune’s FLAME University, advises, “Tell the people who are close to you about how you feel. Including them will help you process the situation better.” She adds that it’s time more companies offered pre- and post-layoff help to employees for their emotional and financial well-being.
Somanna lists some of the steps a person can take to cope after being laid off: “Involve your family for support, take care of your health, exercise, eat well, focus on what you can control, stay positive, and seek professional help, if needed. Most of all remember that tomorrow’s another day, with a lot of hope and promise.”