Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Failing Economy

. Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yesterday was a sad day at Forest Animals A/E. We said goodbye to 40 or so workers who became the latest victims of this failing economy. These workers represented about 15% of our total employee base. The layoffs were strategically made to try and position the company better for what's to come in 2009.

The layoffs weren't totally unexpected. Several weeks ago, our president announced that cuts were going to be made. I guess, during this time period, they were figuring out how many people needed to be laid off and which employees would be let go. Everyone knew that something would happen at this meeting because yesterday's meeting had been announced last week.

You could feel the tension in the air during the weeks leading up to this meeting. I'm sure people were looking at each other thinking, "John might not be working here next week." Or even, "I might be out of a job soon." No one was really lacking work, but everyone realized the state of the economy and the anticipated slow down in work for us in 2009. Our firm has a large backlog of work and we continue to win new projects. The problem is that out clients (schools, prisons, local and state government) do not have the funding available for us to work on them. They've delayed the starts of those projects until they have their funding in order. Most of these entities are required to keep a balanced budget, so they delay projects like the design and construction of a new elementary school.

There was no detail given how the layoffs would happen. On Monday morning, the department heads were walking around and asking certain people to come with them. From experience, I could tell that these were the people getting laid off. Even though I was nervous, having been laid off twice before in my life, I felt cautiously optimisitc about my own job security. A few weeks ago, my boss had mentioned to me that he was planning to nominate me for Senior Associate. I figured that was a pretty good indicator that my job was safe.

So at about 9:00 the people being laid off were gathered together in our large conference room. At about 9:30, all the remaining people were asked to assemble in the gymnasium. Our President announced that the layoffs had just been made and explained what was going to happen to them, the rest of us, and the company as a whole. No one wants anyone to lose their job, but I was glad to hear that those being laid off were given a severance package based on seniority. Our president tried to calm everyone else's fear that these layoffs would be the first of many by stating that these are the only layoffs that they have planned. The company felt that the recession would affect us until late 2009, and these layoffs needed to be made as a result. Obviously, if the economy gets far worse then other layoffs might be necessary. Our president stated his optimism that our company will weather the rest of this storm and will come out well positioned and stronger once the economy rebounds. We're a leader in green design. Hopefully, Obama's plan to modernize schools and government office buildings and provide a rescue package for state and local governments will help those projects that are currently on the back burner move back to the front burner.

All the rest of the day, I watched the results of what happened this morning. Those that got laid off were sadly packing up their things. Fellow employeed (including myself) tried to comfort those that were leaving and to give them our support. There were a few layoffs that surprised me and/or were people that I worked really closely with. Even though many of these people were "only work friends", I felt immensely sad inside. I felt sad for those workers and their families that rely on them. I felt sad remembering how I felt the two times I had been laid off. The second time I was laid off was when my wife was 8-months pregnant with Boo Jr. It was that layoff that forced us to move away from New York and to move down south where I could find a job.

Probably the next week or so will be kind of a mourning period at work. We're a really tight family at Forest Animals A/E. It's a really good company. But even good companies like ours are being hurt hard by the economy right now. The company had to make this tough decision to lay these good folks off in order to keep treading water. January 20, 2009 can't come soon enough.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, that's going on all over the place. It's been happening where my husband works, too...luckily he's been safe, but still...nobody is really safe. It is sad. Especially this time of year. It sucks for this to happen at any time, but especially now.

Anonymous said...

That's really a shame, boo.

I wonder how those people felt knowing everyone else was gathering in your brand-new expensive gym to hear the news. Ouch.

It's bad out there. Not going to get better anytime soon either.


Boo said...

The people were laid off prior to the rest of us recieving the bad news. Our office building has been in design/under construction for many years. The fact that we recently moved into a new office building has no relevancy to our recent layoffs.

It's you know who! said...

That sucks, everyday someplace is closing up or laying off. People really need to start buying US made products. Look at the labels of everything you buy. Keep the money here.