A CEO from my previous organisation mentioned something to me that he had experienced in the dot com bubble burst. He was a CEO then too. "Running a company, is a lot of responsiblity. As the company grows, so does the dependency of a lot of families and their economies on the company. A mistake you make does not only affect you but the families of all your employees. And that is 'responsibility'."
As the global economies are spiralling down, companies are being conservative.
If you can't live without amputing your arm, left without an option, you'll opt to do so.
I remember when we had to hire a couple of freshers in one of the really small startups I was working for. While I did that, the first thing in my mind was to hope that the company stays around for at
least 1 year, since that is a sizable experience for the freshers to start their career with. And I made them fully aware of the fact too, since like all freshers, they had multiple options to consider.
I understand that running a business means you have to take hard decisions. And hard decisions are bitter. If worst comes to worst, of course, you have no option but to trim down. But "hard decisions" or
"business decisions" are certainly not the way to shrug away from the responsibility. A workforce cut is a particularly bitter experience. But there are ways in which you can alleviate that.
The relationship between employer and employee is mutual. If you treat them as family, they treat you as a family and the whole thing is good for you, your employees, your product and your customers. (I am not
exaggerating, there are companies that go out of their way to ensure that their strongest asset, the employees, are comfortable.) And the way you trim down tells a lot about your character and that of your
company. It shows whether you treat your employees as family, or as cattle. And if it is the latter that gets revealed, well, all those employees who have fortunately saved their asses this time around, take a warning cue from the event and do the neeful.