Many technology companies have done well during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those that produce cloud-based infrastructure and productivity apps. However, the technologists within those companies still fear that layoffs are coming.
According to a new survey by Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists about a variety of issues, nearly a third (32 percent) of technologists are worried about layoffs at their company. At firms such as IBM, a majority (70 percent, in Big Blue’s case) are concerned about pink slips.
Even if they’re not focused on their own employment prospects, employees at many companies are also reporting generalized chatter about layoffs. Some 86 percent of PayPal employees, for example, say that co-workers are opening speculating about whether layoffs are coming. It’s 69 percent at Dropbox, which recently announced that it would cut 11 percent of its workforce as part of a broader restructuring.
Part of this fear might have to do with the time of year; the first quarter is when many businesses readjust their product roadmaps and trim teams. Just witness VMware, which plans on laying off a small portion of its workforce as part of a corporate rebalancing strategy.
Here’s the full breakdown of those worried about layoffs. As you can see, a relatively small percentage of technologists at some of the biggest companies (Amazon, Google, etc.) are actually concerned about it:
The level of concern, though, is notably higher at some other firms, including IBM and Walmart. This might be as much a reflection of those companies’ internal cultures as any exterior issue. As you might expect, the companies where employees hear lots of speculation about layoffs align in many cases with the companies where employees directly fear layoffs:
Fortunately, most tech companies seem to be hiring, not laying people off. According to CompTIA, technology occupations “throughout the economy” grew by 391,000 positions in December 2020. Unemployment within the tech industry hit 3 percent that month, much lower than the 6.7 percent rate for the broader economy. There are also signs that layoffs within startups have leveled off, which is another good sign.