The Anatomy of a Layoff

This week, a memo sparks outrage about how large companies conduct layoffs, commuting daily may be good for you, and teenage mental health spirals out of control.

In the News:

Microsoft Layoff Memo: A memo describing the reasons for the latest round of layoffs was shared. (Microsoft Blog)

Within the past year, Microsoft has decided to lay off the second highest number of employees in its history. (GeekWire) The memo has generated conversation and unleashed a fury of opinions from Americans. The reasons that were cited will sound familiar if you have been following recent ‘big tech’ layoffs.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the layoffs were necessary to correct for a prior boost in spending to meet the demands of the pandemic. 

This memo contrasts with Google’s approach which received widespread criticism when former employee, Jeremy Joslin shared his story on Twitter. (CBS News

The affected employee took to Twitter to share his story.

“Google prides itself on solving difficult problems… How to notify people gracefully and with respect that they’re getting laid off is a difficult problem and I think they could have done a better job solving it.” 

Read more about this below in the Deep Dive Section.

More Big News

Hate Your Commute? Count Your Blessings: Does working from home make you miss your commute? Does going to the office every day make you wish you worked from home?

Psychologists have pointed out that the daily commute may be a good thing because it forces a process of detachment and recovery from the events of the day. (Business Insider via MSN)

  • If you are working remotely, go for a walk, do a workout, find something to accomplish a similar psychological effect.
  • If you are commuting, enjoy the relative ease at which you can detach and remember that this article exists.

Also, tell your friends to subscribe to this newsletter.

Code Red Warning: Disturbing statistics reveal that the mental health of teenagers in the western world is now officially an imminent societal danger. (CDC)

  • In the year 2021, a disturbing 57% of teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless. This is double the rate reported by teen boys.
  • 30% of teen girls seriously considered suicide. 
  • 70% of teens who identify as LGBTQ+  experienced persistent sadness or hopelessness with 1 out of 4 attempting suicide. (NBC – Today Show)

Some suggest increasing mental health and suicide prevention awareness in schools and advising parents on the signs to look out for. (NBC – Today Show)

Many are pointing to excessive teenage use of social media as a leading culprit. (PBS)

We may be reaching an inflection point. If this trend continues, the consequences will be dire. The time to think deeper about this important issue was here yesterday because the status-quo is not working. 

A Job Poorly Done: Facebook has reportedly given an unusually high number of poor performance reviews. After President Mark Zuckerberg declared 2023 to be Facebook’s “year of efficiency,” many are speculating that this could be a harbinger of even more upcoming job cuts. (Fox Business)

  • Facebook has also recently delivered poor results for its shareholders. (CNBC)

Other News

Career Assistance for Old People: A few colleges are providing career guidance courses to baby boomers. (Wall Street Journal)

Inflation Nation: The latest data suggest that the trend of cooling inflation in the US economy may not continue. (Financial Times)

Layoffs??!!: Fidelity bucks the current trend by adding 4,000 jobs. (LinkedIn News)

A Deeper Dive – The Anatomy of a Layoff

Google’s recent, remarkably impersonal approach to layoffs raised many eyebrows. (CNBC) Most companies ensure that someone (typically a manager) bothers to acknowledge the humanity of the workers they turn their backs on. Especially when that person had a 20 year tenure. 

While there may be no perfect way to break the bad news to employees, some approaches are better than others.

To Explain or Not Explain

In the aforementioned memo on Microsoft’s blog, CEO Satya Nadella explains and rationalizes the decision. Like a typical CEO, Nadella cannot avoid the temptation to cheer lead for his company. He says, “I’m confident that Microsoft will emerge from this stronger and more competitive, but it requires us to take actions grounded in 3 priorities.”

He goes on to explain that these include:

(1) Aligning their cost structure with where they see customer demand.

(2) Investing in strategic areas of their future while divesting in others.

(3) Treating employees with dignity, respect, and transparency.

Obviously the message is intended for current employees who are wary of future layoffs but many people believe that this message sounds tone-deaf. It does beg the question: Is there a nice way to deliver news to someone that is this bad?

Fired from work without notice.

Is there a nice way to tell someone that you are breaking up with them? Is there a nice way to tell someone that they are terminally ill? Is there a nice way to tell someone that they are fired? 

Corporations the size of Microsoft are ultimately responsible to their shareholders – for better or worse. It’s easy to fixate on the harm done to the families of those affected, especially in a time where the cost of living has accelerated rapidly. To make matters worse, politicians seem widely tone deaf, uncaring, and incapable of addressing the problem.

A Quick and Useful Lesson

If you are employed by a company, especially one in the technology sector right now, here is a better place to focus your attention.

Live below your means. Avoid debt, budget well, restrain impulsive spending, and advance your own career capital. (Marney Andes – Via LinkedIn)

While directing outrage at corporations who mass layoffs to appease shareholders is understandable, it is a longstanding practice. In this sense, the rounds of layoffs like these are somewhat foreseeable. So we had better all be ready in case it happens to us. 

A mindset of ‘when, not if’ is prudent. There is no downside in applying the old adage, ‘expect the best, prepare for the worst.’ Save money now to avoid pushing the panic button later.

What I’m Reading

The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s StudentsAllan Bloom

Continuing on the theme of books about recapturing lost philosophical and political wisdom, I’ve been reading a heavy one that was originally published back in 1987. I enjoy reading older books sometimes because they are a reminder that the problems society currently faces have already been publicly debated. 

This is a dense, rich book filled with historical context and lost wisdom. One insight that stands out is the idea that education exists to quell the innate human desire to learn and grow. The book also explores how ‘kids these days’ tend to care more about their career, identity, and image than actually learning stuff in college. This trend has only accelerated with the emergence of social media (remember this book was written in the 1980s).

What I’m Using

Got Coffee? – Don’t forget to order yourself a scale so you can make it at home with the perfect beans to hot water ratios.

While you’re at it, this tea kettle will make sure you have the perfect temperature of 195-205 degrees.

This simple equipment has taken my coffee-making game to the next level.

Quote of the Week

“I don’t like to write, but like having written.” Frank Norris

Articles of the Week

The Power of Labels: For both positive and negative, labels have power. (JillFit)

Surprising Alliance: Here is something surprising that Generation Z and Baby Boomers may have in common: technological ineptitude. (Fortune)

Say ‘No’ to Critics and Stonewallers: Here are 5 toxic approaches that earn you enemies instead of friends. (Gottman)

Deep Dive Careers Article of the Week: Ready, Aim, Fire: Developing Self-Mastery Through Exploration

A career is an experiment and you are never fully in control. Learn to get comfortable experimenting with a variation of a traditional saying. Instead of ‘ready, aim, fire,’ switch it around. 

‘Ready, Fire, Aim.‘

Don’t do this with guns. Do it you know… metaphorically.

Other Fun Stuff

Gettin’ Nasty: A German ballet director smeared the face of a journalist with a bag of dog poop. He got fired. (LA Times)

What They Want, What they Really, REALLY Want: Survey data revealed some unexpected preferences for Americans. (YouGov America)

  • Americans are unified in their frustration about the lack of sidewalks in major cities, with 70% preferring that US cities were more walkable.
  • A 48% plurality of Americans reject the idea of switching to the metric system of measurement, with only 25% in support.
  • 49% of Americans wish that the wide gaps in the walls of US bathroom stalls would be made smaller so people can’t look. Shockingly, 30% of Americans apparently do not want these gaps to become smaller.

That’s right, more Americans support the large gaps in bathroom stalls than switching to the metric system. Long live the Red, White, and Blue. 🇺🇸

Dad Joke of the Week

~ Q: Why did the hipster fall into the lake?

A: He tried ice skating before it was cool. ~

Thank you for reading the Weekly Wave. I’ll catch you next week.

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