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Tech Industry Layoffs Reveal Ugly Cycle of Hiring and Layoffs With Differing Reactions
Episode 44th February 2023 • The Boss Rebellion™ • Free Agent Source
00:00:00 00:10:10

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Steve Pruneau and Asher Black gawk at the current valley in the cycle of hiring and layoffs that typify firms' inability to match workforce to workload, and how business journalism euphemizes that problem. Of interest in the #bossrebellion


  • The ugly cycle of hiring and layoffs
  • Jaded reactions after multiple bubbles
  • The security of jobs vs. work
  • The euphemisms around layoffs that conceal their cause
  • The end of job loss shame and the gift of getting back one's time



The Boss Rebellion


Asher Black:

So there's an article in the New York Times about, , tech companies, , cutting jobs, which they're doing in mass. Of course, Google, , Amazon, Microsoft out in Redmond, et cetera. And it's about the differing reactions, , to that, those cuts and to losing one's job based on one's age group or demographic, et cetera.

And what I find interesting about this is a couple of things. First, the trust is still. Among sort of 20 something. So for instance, it gives the example of a 26 year old who says, I'm so shocked, I'm so surprised. I told all my friends that I'm set for life because I got outta college and I got this job.

h, maybe they're referring to:

You look around and every year you sort of ask yourself, what am I gonna do if I lose my job? The likelihood is high. , for one reason or another, you know, management's, restructuring, management is laying off whatever is happening and, , you prepare. , so from my point of view, I'm sort of bewildered by, , the younger set that isn't seeing the pattern.

Is it lack of knowledge of history or is it lack of seeing what happened to their their parents? Or is it just that we've sort of institutionalized trust in the company itself and that sort of belief system? The faith in a job is so strong. So what reinforces that for me is. All the euphemisms out in the market.

So I actually Googled this. Why are tech firms cutting jobs? And I ended up, , with a ration of, of euphemisms, which I'll talk about in a minute. But basically it, it seems as though most of the business writing obscures the fact that there is a pattern in the first place that actually companies do go through these cycles of hiring and laying off.

Each one of these is presented as though this is this, this is a one.

Steve Pruneau:

Yeah. Well it's, it's in the company's interest, right? For people to believe that it's a one-off. There's, even though it's different from the fifties, you know, companies generally don't say, you know, make your career with us. Make your life with us.

There's still some subtle. Some subtle behaviors that lead people and successfully by the reactions to this successfully to adopt that idea of, it's good here. I have job security here and, and because if that's abandoned, then it's a lot harder to keep people in the company, right? It's a lot harder for people to work their butts off work over the weekend.

We've got crunch time, we've gotta get this project out the. people are gonna be less motivated to do that if the, the real issue, which is this is gonna happen again. It's cyclical, it keeps happening. It's a pattern. Not to mention the fact, fact that, that, you know, managers would rather hire people in on other people's money than than do the work themselves.

So we bulk up until the lead, the happy times are over. So yeah, it's a, it's. , it's all in, in the advantage of the, of the company to create this illusion that yes, it's, it's an exception.

Asher Black:

Well, and it, it begs the question of why business press and, and, , economic journalism is supporting the myth instead of exposing it.

I mean, when I, when I googled it, so I got this, I asked the Google what , what's causing the tech layoffs? And I got this ration of, of nonsense that said, it's several factors including the economy, inflation, higher interest rates, the effects of covid first. All four of those are the exact same thing. So just say it's the economy, which is another way of saying.

Things are different. I don't know. , I mean, of course it's the economy, but that's, that's what you say when you don't know. Then they mention two other things they say and, , over hiring and job correction, which by the way are the same thing. But that's really the crux of it. And it's telling that they load us up with all this miasma of mystical, impersonal forces.

First, and then finally kind of, you know, briefly go, well end over hiring and job correction. It's like, what you mean is, you know, if we look at this cycle of murdering jobs, and that's what it is, if this was a murderer, , and, and they kept killing again and again. Every 10 years there's a new rash of victims, and then they kind of go to sleep for a little while.

You know, fatten themselves back up for the next rash of victims. We would begin to study how they do it and what it looks like. We'd look for a modus operandi. And when you look at this, this modus operandi, it is this bulking up until basically the economy says, no, you're top heavy, you need to trim. And then it's cutting massive people, , loose.

So it's mass hirings, mass layoffs. We just got through a mass hiring phase. It's followed by a mass layoff phase. I am, I'm surprised that, , this myth that there is no. That, , there is no modus operandi. Th this is just individual, , sep isolated events, and no pattern exists. I'm surprised that this persists in the press.

Steve Pruneau:

Yeah. We really do need to to lay it at the doorstep, at the desk of the people who keep bulking up too much, right? Why can't we just maintain a more steady trajectory, longer term? Say, look, this is what we need to run the company. And if you bulk up too much, then you're gonna have to go through this pain.

Bulk up layoff, bulk up layoff. Of course, nobody who has to stand up and say, . Look, we're, we're laying off 12,000 people today. They don't wanna say, and , sorry, I shouldn't have hired you in the first place. . It's my fault. .

Asher Black:

Well, this binging and purging, I mean, in any other context of life, we would look at it as destru, self-destructive behavior, right?

So it's one thing to have. To eat way too much fu food on Thanksgiving or something, your body's gonna purge it out. , if that's not your normal pattern and you go back to sort of salads and a modest, moderate, , diet. But if you go for like three weeks, , in, in Italy and you eat constantly five meals a day, heavy, big, thick, heavy sauces and things like that, your body's gonna eventually go.

, your choices are to now go nuts at the gym and, and throw this off for the next nine months until you go on your next vacation. Or it's, you're gonna be a, a different size of person, et cetera. So, , yeah, I think the, the cycle needs to be broken, but I think it's breaking another cycle. . So it used to be a cultural moray, a taboo to lose your job.

You know, back in the old days, , people would shake their heads with pio. You know, Steve, I feel so bad for him. He lost its job. Should we bring him over some jello? My wife made a, a pie. Let's take it over to Bill's house because, you know, he lost his job. The shame of being laid. Is really gone. Right? , so lots and lots of good people are being laid off with lots and lots of skills.

obs thing. I remember back in:

You know, it's not jobs. It's work. Work is what matters. And so a lot of people are looking. As a gift, and while they're waiting for the next one to happen, while they're saying, Hey, I'm not surprised I saw this happen the last time. They're taking the company's money, they're saving a little bit of it.

They're developing a side hustle so that if they want to, they can work on their own terms for somebody else that isn't the single source of a paycheck. They can develop their own client base, they can get out there and do their own side hustle, and then when the company does lay them, Well, hey, thank you.

You've put capital into my business. I now have clients, and now I'm gonna set the terms for my future employment. If I take another. I'm not gonna work weekends, or I'm not gonna work nights or 60 hours a week, or I'm not gonna come into the office. It's gonna be remote work. So a lot of people who have seen this aren't just not emotionally crying in the office.

Like all of these sort of Google employees watching their friends get laid off, but they're saying, Hmm, thank you, Mr. Employer. I, I think that's pretty good. And by the way, for the people that are still at Google that apparently one Google engineer says, we're crying in the office in mass, you know, cry for the other guy.

You're not the victim. He is. If he didn't see this,

Steve Pruneau:

I remember my very first contracted job years and years ago, not quite the, the previous century. where there was a team meeting, people were talking about, it was a little bit of chit chat after the main, main meeting. And, , they were talking about employees and, and taking care of people.

And, and something came up along the lines of who mattered . And one guy turns to me, and we're not talking about you Steve, we're talking about, you know, real people, employees. And it was hilarious. I, I thought it was perfect cuz he's really putting his. on the, sort of the cultural distinction that back in the day, you know, you're, you're part of the family, you're part of your real person.

If you're an employee and you're not a real person, if you're a contractor, that that's all the, the curtain's getting pulled back, the robes getting taken off. You know, every job is temporary and, and I love it that, I don't love it for the pain, but I hope, you know, we ripped this band-aid off enough times.

I hope people are gonna say, Hey, you know, this is normal. It's gonna keep happening, so let's just learn how to take care of our, our financial wellbeing with this expected. .

Asher Black:

Yeah. You know, the lifeboat is stronger than ever. The lifeboat experiment. It's just who gets thrown out of the boat. That is changing.

But some of us brought a life jacket, and so we're gonna be all right.