For Riya*, a middle-level manager at Cognizant, it’s the first conversation she has every morning. When a meeting is held, it’s constantly at the back of her mind.
The economic slowdown has struck multiple industries and the IT sector is the latest target. In the last week alone, Cognizant announced that it was going to lay off 7,000 employees, Capgemini 500, and layoffs at Infosys, which the company says is involuntary attrition, is reportedly close to 10,000.
“There is a fear that most of us have. It’s affecting our productivity because at the back of our minds, there is the thought that it is possible that we are on the next list. We don’t know what kind of thought process goes into making that list,” Riya says.
This fear among mid and senior-level managers — well into their careers and often with loans to pay, children to educate and families to care for — is palpable. Employees are now being pushed to brace themselves for an uncertain future, while silently figuring out contingency plans for a proverbial rainy day.
TNM spoke to middle and senior-level managers across companies, who all say that layoffs have become a matter of everyday water-cooler conversation across the board.
Athul*, a senior-level manager at a Bengaluru company who didn’t want to be named, notes that the layoff news has definitely been on people’s minds, and here too, was a dominant part of their conversations.
While the company where Athul works will not see any kind of mass layoffs, the growing anxiety within the industry is hard to ignore. “There is certainly an element of doubt, especially for those who may not have upskilled,” he says.
People are making a conscious effort to upskill in order to stay relevant, not only in the company but in the industry as well, he adds.
Shriya*, a senior-level manager at Tata Consultancy Services, concurs. TCS has announced that it will be weathering the storm and won’t be having any layoffs, but the general state of the industry has instilled fear, Shriya says.
“We know that there aren’t going to be any layoffs, but it’s about our credibility — so we have started skilling up. We’ve started brushing up on those skills that we didn’t focus on earlier in order to not become redundant,” she says.
Riya, on the other hand, says that she has actively cut down on spending, and along with her colleagues, has kept a lookout for other opportunities due to the demoralising news around the layoffs.
“I didn’t think as much before spending as I do now. Everything has to be thought through — do I need this, do I have to do this, only then I do it. And now, I save a lot more than what I would usually save,” she says.
However, as a parent, Riya says that the layoffs have also entered the minds of the kids in her child’s school, who are now beginning to ask questions about whether their parents will be able to stay employed. “For a school-going child to have this kind of thought process is worrying,” she says.