Skip to content

Two Hard Truths About Layoffs

employee laid off packing up belongings

Getting Laid Off is Hard

If you’ve ever been laid off, like I have, you understand how bewildering and frightening of an experience it can be. It’s with this first-hand understanding and with compassion that I share a few thoughts about the recent rounds of layoffs in the tech sector.

Hard Truth #1: Layoffs Impact the Bottom 20%

When companies seek to reduce staff, they typically target the bottom 20% (or some given percentage) of the performance curve. If you’ve been working hard and going above and beyond, it’s usually duly noted, and the ax normally bypasses you.

If, on the other hand, you’ve been pocketing a healthy paycheck but more or less coasting, the elimination of your position can help to achieve the profitability that investors and boards of directors are clamoring for.

While I have experienced the pain of being laid off, I have also been at companies where I survived layoffs and pretty quickly observed that the staff reduction did not seem to meaningfully affect the company’s operations or performance. Those who were laid off had not really been adding measurable value.

Hard Truth #2: Layoffs Can Impact High Performers

There are many exceptions to Hard Truth #1. Even solid performers can also sometimes open their inboxes to find a dreaded layoff notice or an ominous invitation to a call with HR. Particularly with the economic volatility that we’ve witnessed in the past three years – belt tightening and breath holding in the early covid days followed by frenetic hiring in sectors such as tech followed ultimately by drastic restructuring and deep job cuts – many hard-working and value-adding individuals will find themselves jobless at the same time as the underperformers.

What’s the Takeaway?

You may be asking yourself: so why should I work hard if I can still get laid off?

Apart from the fact that this is – in my view – your unwritten obligation to your employer, the next hiring manager you’re speaking with will certainly respond to the work ethic, continuous learning, innovative thinking, and added value that you were demonstrating before your layoff. This is not to mention that people tend to help those who have a track record of hard work and reliability.

Also, if you may be thinking of your own venture, you’ll usually be in a much better position if you’ve already been putting in the work to add real value in your day job. The combination of commitment, creativity, focus, flexibility and hard work that you have demonstrated while employed at another company will be an absolute requirement for your own business to have any chance of succeeding.

If the recent job cuts in tech have impacted you directly or economic uncertainties have you reassessing your career path and you think that my perspective might be helpful, please reach out, particularly if you may be considering starting a new business, and particularly in the field of consulting and professional services. I’d be glad to offer honest guidance (pro bono) as you contemplate your next moves.

Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

Related Shorts

2 reasons why people donโ€™t learn

My Biggest Regret In Life

The Damage of Mislearning

Cowards Never Live

Advisors NOT Therapists

Double Dipping the Economy

Who Your Real Business Enemies Are

3 Types of Side Hustles

Success is 90% Work

High Expectations – Low Resilience

The Only Manager Steve Jobs Had

Waiting for the Perfect Job ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿพ

How to Build a Unicorn

Eating Glass and Staring Into the Abyss

Help Paralysis

When Feeling Down

Collecting Books and CDs

Sir Richard Branson on Hard Work

But I Worked Hard…

Panicking Over Normal Business Things

How to Rechannel a Clientโ€™s Energy

What Is Aikido?

Andy Grove on Business Principles

Don’t Abuse Your Power

Why Are You Proud of That?

Glorifying Business Mistakes ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž

Procrastinating Starting Your Business

Ponzi Schemes in 2024

How to Take In Client Rejections

Once in a LifeTime

From Laid Off to an 8-Figure Acquisition

3 Reasons You’re Stuck in the Rat Race

I Have a Dream But

The Entrepreneurial Drive

6 Reasons Stopping You From Starting Your Business

Why Business Advisors Don’t Take You Seriously

How to Overcome Fear of Failure in Business

THE REASON You Haven’t Started Your Business Yet

Charlie Munger’s Key to Intelligence

Business Is Not for the Lazy

The Mental & Social Burden of Failing a Business

Don’t Compare Your Chapter 1 to Their Chapter 20

The Power of Gratitude in Entrepreneurship

The Power of Gratitude for Business Culture

Entrepreneurship Is 5x Harder than You Imagined

When to Keep Going or When to Quit in Your New Consulting Business

After a Layoff, Reflect – Improve – Restart

Laid Off? Starting a Consulting Business Is Like Looking for a Job

Starting a New Business: Are You Ready, Willing, and Able