January ushers in a new year and many new beginnings, but it also ushers in a bleak month of layoffs. Amazon, Vimeo, Salesforce, and clothing retailer Everlane all announced mass layoffs in the first week of January.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced in a letter to employees that the company is laying off 10% of its workforce because it “hired too many people leading up to this economic downturn we’re now facing.”
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, January has been one of the most common months for layoffs over the last ten years. According to experts, the reason is primarily calendar-driven.
“We often see quite a bit of layoff in January,” said Sarah Rodehorst, co-founder of Onwards HR, a company that helps businesses conduct layoffs. “As they analyze their data from the last year, what budgets they have going forward, they really are planning strategies for the year, so there’s often a lot of restructures, reorganizations.”
Rodehorst anticipates an increase in layoffs in the technology, healthcare, retail, banking, and insurance industries in the coming year.
“Chances are there is some planning going on,” she said if a company in those fields hasn’t made an announcement. Another reason could be that many bonuses are usually given out in January.
“That’s a time when you also give bonuses, and so if you are trying to be mindful and not particularly ethical about who gets those and how much they get, some companies may try to take advantage of this” and lay off eligible employees instead of giving them their bonus, said Sandra Sucher, a professor of management at Harvard Business School.
If you’re worried about losing your job this month, you may experience a panic attack and severe anxiety. Take a deep breath and make a plan. Here’s how to handle a layoff if you know or suspect one is on the way:
Recognize first that these intense feelings are totally normal. Losing a job is among the most psychologically stressful things we ever go through.
What is one thing that can help with anxiety? Concentrating on what you can control rather than worrying about being laid off on an unknown date.
Because the decision to lay you off may have been made weeks ago, Gregory Tall, a workshop facilitator who coaches managers, does not advise “working your tail off” in an attempt to avoid being laid off.
Tall advises assuming that you will be laid off and planning for that future if you have heard rumours about layoffs. “It’s easier to stop all preparations than it is to start all preparations,” he said.
Calculate your finances and document what you want to save now. This is the time to calculate and save for your emergency fund. Tall said to ask himself, “Am I immediately in trouble? Because if so, I need to think right now about how to generate income.”
Reflect on what you’re good at and what you want to be good at. Losing a job can also be a time to reset and do a career pivot. If you do not know what you want to do next, Sucher recommended taking a week or two to note which company stories interest you, what industries they are in, and what it is about them that interests you.
And if you have trusted colleagues, try asking them about your strengths.
See it as an opportunity to job-hunt. Although January is a month with heavy layoffs, it’s also a month where you are more likely to get a new job, too. Rodehorst said it’s the month when companies make the newest hires.