No matter how you cut it, layoffs are difficult for everyone involved.

There have been tons of articles written about layoffs, going through layoffs and people having a difficult time finding jobs after getting laid off.

With the economy struggling to regain its footing, there are so many stories of people losing their jobs and struggling through the current job market.

It’s tough for everyone.

For this article, however, I would like to explore and write about the other side of layoffs.  I’m not talking about the big corporate layoffs that are done purely based on financial information.  I’m talking about the personal and emotional difficulty for managers of companies and small-to-medium sized business owners to come to the decision of layoffs and what they go through during the entire period from financial stress to the actual layoff.

First off, I think the first thing that people must understand is that most company managers and small-to-medium sized business owners do not want to lay people off.  For the most part, they will do everything within their power to prevent that final decision from happening.  

Some companies will borrow money to make it through the slow economic times.  Other companies will reduce any additional spending they can.  Some will take as many paycuts as possible.

Every once in a while, however, there comes a time when the money runs out.

Then the decision has to be made: save half the ship, or lose the ship entirely?  This is probably one of the worst decisions anyone will ever have to make in their life.  Do you potentially ruin the lives of people that you have possibly known and worked with for 10 to 20 years?  Are you making the right decision?  Have you failed as an individual and as a company?  Is the economy going to rebound?  How long can we wait before we do it?

No matter what anyone says, you know that this decision will change everyone’s lives – including your own.  You know with this decision, you may lose friendships, trust and any form of positive morale within your company or group.

Unfortunately, there are certain decisions that have to be made.  And you as the business owner or company manager will be the one that has to make it.

Once that decision is made, you lose sleep and live in anxiety.  You look at people’s faces when you go into work and antagonize about what you are about to do.  You constantly second guess yourself.

Are we making the right decision?  Isn’t there anything else we can do?  Will the economy turn around?

Then the day comes.  You have to look people in the eye and tell them that they are about to lose their livelihood.  You are about to change the history of people’s lives forever.  The promise of success and greatness you gave them when you hired them is now just a faded memory.

Once the layoffs have been done, you feel empty and exhausted.  The stress and anxiety has come to a final chapter and you have nothing left in you (physically and emotionally).

In the end, most companies survive.  From a financial standpoint, overhead and costs decrease significantly after a round of layoffs. Companies end up rebuilding what they had and get to a point of stability and growth once again.

It’s an unfortunate cycle of business and economics that everyone has been going through.

The scars, however, will always be there for both the people who were laid off and for the people on the other side of layoffs.  Rarely are there people who are unaffected by these types of decisions.

Some may ask: Is it better to be on the other side of layoffs? 

In my humble opinion, neither side is better.  Each side has to survive, rebuild and grow to get back to where they once were. 

The only hope is they both end up in a much better place in the long run.

Black Swan