What it feels like to be laid off...






I’ve worked with or in media my whole career. I love it. I love the adrenalin, I love the excitement. I love the pressure of the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that your whole day can change in an instant.

And on Monday this week whole lives changed in an instant for my friends who work at Fairfax. Today the same thing is set to happen for employees at News Limited.

It’s likely you’ve heard that thousands of jobs are being axed at Australia’s most dominant media companies. Being media mad, I have spent every spare second since these announcements talking, speculating and thinking about the story.

I have bemoaned the demise of quality journalism to my mates back home. I have analysed the growing influence of online media with my colleagues. I even engaged in more than a little bit of intellectual wanker-ism with a friend in Melbourne – delving into those big concepts like freedom of the press and editorial independence. (Hello Gina.)

And now I’m kind of ashamed of myself.

The essay below was written by an anonymous employee of a major technology company in the immediate aftermath of mass redundancies being announced there. It was originally published at Old South High.

It reminded me that while the media circus around this issue builds and we quite rightly ask questions about freedom of the press – at the center of this story are the people.

Thousands of people who are out of a job.

Thousands of people and thousands of families who rely on their incomes to survive.

You may want to take a moment to read this moving insight into what it’s like when your employer lays off your friends and colleagues:

It starts with one person pulled into the small meeting room with the manager. When the employee comes out everyone can read in his or her face that their “employment opportunity” here is over… it’s a hot rush of blood through your whole body – you feel your hands and neck heating up and your mind is bewildered and twirling and tumbling as you wonder what could I have done differently and when will the money run out?

Part of your mind is running through your list of connections and possible job opportunities while your manager is still using words like “sad” and “had to” and “difficult for everyone” and HR wants you to sign this that and the other and you’re wondering what your face looks like to everyone else while you grab your personal things and you try to tell your co-workers what you were working on…

Rumours start to float around about possible under performance on this project or political motivation from that manager. This doesn’t have much time to air out because the second person then comes out of the small room. Once two people are laid off in quick succession everyone knows what’s happening and group fear tingles through the team like electricity or an infectious disease.

You work together for years without truly looking deep into your co-workers eyes, but on days like this people are trying to look so deep into each others’ eyes that nothing else needs to be said…

Have you ever been laid off? What are you thoughts about the job losses at Fairfax and News Limited?