More and more US companies are not afraid to lay off their employees just before the holidays. Oftentimes, employees don’t even get a warning. The company bosses do not seem to be bothered by a possible damage to their image.
A perfidious trend on the labor market is currently triggering outrage in the USA. Just before the holidays, the layoffs seem to be piling up at many companies. In a first wave of layoffs, numerous companies announced the bad news to their employees shortly before Thanksgiving. The American family holiday at the end of November is close to the heart of many people in a similar way to Christmas. Now things are moving on: According to US media reports, countless more job cuts are pending before the holidays in December and at the beginning of the new year.
“It came without any warning. There hadn’t even been any rumours, so it took off like a bombshell,” Deanne Viel told the Guardian newspaper. The Jeep Cherokee manufacturer Stellantis in Illinois had fired them and around 1,200 workers on December 9th. “That ruined Christmas for us. Nobody’s in the mood anymore.”
A manager at PC maker Lenovo also reports: “I and others thought that they would at least give us some kind of warning instead of being caught out of nowhere so close to Christmas,” said the American, who declined to give his name . He revealed to the portal “WRAL Techwire” that his immediate superior had given him notice only five minutes before the termination by the group management.
HP, one of Lenovo’s main competitors, also recently announced 6,000 layoffs. “Does that have to be before Christmas of all times?” ask indignant users on social media. Although there is probably never an ideal time for this, according to many users, terminations so close to the holidays would appear downright malicious and insidious.
Statistics from the US Department of Labor show that America has had the second highest number of layoffs every December since 2000. The month of January usually ranks first in terms of the number of terminations. The phenomenon is relatively new. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), as late as the 1980s, the majority of entrepreneurs would have shied away from giving notice at Christmas. At that time, mass layoffs shortly before the holidays could have caused devastating image damage and ruined a company’s reputation.
But US bosses hardly seem to pay any more attention to this. In countless companies, the end of the calendar and fiscal year coincides. At the end of the year, many companies take stock. Costs and business goals are redefined – and jobs are eliminated.
However, headhunter Jonathan Reynolds advises against it and recommends that companies wait until after the holiday period before making mass layoffs. Companies should carefully consider the impact on their reputations with employees, the expert from Titus Talent Strategies told WSJ: “The risk-averse people in particular would then prefer to go to an employer that takes care of their employees.”
In the American tech sector, mass layoffs have been causing uncertainty among workers for months. According to the media portal “YahooFinance”, around 150,000 employees were laid off by the first week of December at Facebook’s parent company Meta, Twitter, Microsoft, Netflix, Shopify and other companies in the industry. In November, the number of job cuts rose 127 percent from the previous month, five times higher than the same period last year.
Companies from other sectors are following suit: After announcing cuts at Coca-Cola and the vegan food manufacturers Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, Pepsi also announced forthcoming layoffs on December 6th.
For some Amazon employees, the day before Christmas Eve will also be their last at the shipping giant. At the beginning of December, the first jobs were cut at the online retailer. Exact figures have not yet been published. But it is said that up to 10,000 more could follow.
A day before Thanksgiving, a number of Amazon employees were blocked from access to company buildings and their laptops, reports the tech platform TechXplore. Now some employees from the human resources department are supposed to appear at their workplace for the last time on December 23rd. Many did not even hear the news from Amazon itself, but from the media, TechXplore reports – and were “visibly shocked”.
An end to the layoffs does not seem to be in sight on the US job market for the time being. “I don’t want to point the finger at retailers who will most likely go bankrupt after the holiday,” finance expert Jim Cramer told CNBC. “I’m sure there will be a lot of layoffs after Christmas.”