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Layoffs at Sprint-Nextel aren't sending masses to the foodbank

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By Nikki Weingartner     Apr 1, 2009 in Technology
Telecommunications layoff announcements are heading up over 60,000 since October of 2008 and although it seems tragic, not everyone hit with a pink slip suffers doom. Instead of a toss to the curb, former employees are getting a gentle transition.
When it comes to corporate downsizing, or better known as a layoff, emotions run wild as employees scramble to find out if their position is on the chopping block. In light of the recent economical problems facing both the United States and the world economy, companies have been slashing jobs in some of the most violent of patterns, leaving to the mind images of the homeless sitting curbside without food or water, left to rot in their own despair. However, this is not always an accurate assessment of the situation.
Sure, layoffs are a time of restructuring where companies go from a family environment and network friends and co-workers to instant feelings of isolation as employees are escorted from buildings with a small box of belongings. They are often left standing outside of the brick and mortar, looking back and wondering.
In January, companies across the nation announced tens of thousands of upcoming cuts following attempts to trim the fat through pay freezes and mandatory unpaid time off. Home Depot, the DIY mecca, had announced 7,000 cuts nationally and made the decision to do away with over a dozen of its Expo Design Centers.
As the business hub of Texas, Dallas did not go untouched as Texas Instruments, commonly known for those great scientific calculators required in advanced mathematics, announced nearly 3,500 cuts through layoff and voluntary retirement. But the granddaddy of them all was the 8,000 cuts announced by the number three telecom company, Sprint-Nextel. That announcement was made as part of an effort to explain a cost-cutting plan designed to trim back around $1.2 Billion US annually. Sprint's CEO, Dan Hesse, stated in the announcement that the RIF was a "difficult action" but that their "commitment to quality" would go unchanged.
Those layoffs and around 850 buyouts were said to have a completion date of March 31, 2009. Many workers at the Grapevine, TX location saw their last day on Friday of last week. However, former employees of the company didn't get tossed out on the streets holding a box of picture frames and personal effects as notifications came several weeks back and they were allowed to continue working until the last day. Some were given the opportunity to transfer to other locations or take a lower position with slightly less pay while others were given severance packages that some are calling "fair." In light of the alternative surrounding " at will employees" and the current state of the economy, "fair" is a pretty positive term and certainly beats out nothing.
Since its announcement in January, Sprint-Nextel has also made three public hiring announcements for specified locations with the most recent being made April, 1, 2009 for the Orlando, Fl call center. This shows that a restructuring or refocus of certain areas may better impact the company, where it could have been a bit heavy.
Still, those at the Dallas-area Sprint who were once part of a bigger family will now experience battles with grief and associated loss as they look for jobs in a slim but viable market. Sources say that co-workers who use to meet regularly for happy hour events and social time haven't abandoned the practice just because of layoffs, citing that they "still hang with friends from Sprint." They aren't really left standing outside the building. Some have been forced to restructure their home life, downsizing into a smaller living arrangement such as an apartment but the benefits are worth it as they have explained that they no longer have to deal with yard maintenance or the time-consuming efforts that go into living in a home.
A report out of Philadelphia shows just what people should do if they are struck by the axe, with a normal schedule or routine being crucial to overall well-being. Using job-hunting as a full-time temporary career is necessary because as one man said in the article:
"Once my severance ends unemployment will not pay my bills."
And that is true for thousands across the country, leaving some to take on a more creative approach to filling in the gaps. For instance, a few buddies from the past share their experiences with the recent layoffs by cashing in on their creative talents. One individual has taken to jewelry making, boasting of a recent selling of two-hundred pieces. Another has used his talents to create his own landscaping business. Both individuals are from the Houston, TX area although I am confident their stories are not the exception with the massive layoffs across the nation and in the telecom industry.
Number one in the industry for profitability, Dallas-based A T & T, announced in December of 2008 that it would cut 12,000 jobs over the nearly 4,500 positions eliminated in the spring of that same year. Number two in terms of profits and yet still the largest in the industry and number one in customer loyalty, Verizon Wireless announced in mid February that it too would be slashing around 1,000 employees nationwide.
Others in the industry that have seen a recent cutback:
Comcast - 300 jobs announced in October 2008 to be cut.
Qwest Communications - 1,200 jobs cut announced October 2008.
A running tally of other industry companies and their recent layoff announcements can be seen here, with well above 60,000 layoffs announced since October, 2008.
So with companies like A T & T paying out some $600 million US in severance packages, the reality is that not everyone will end up in a caustic situation following the job cuts. It will give some time to get their affairs in order, others time to find creative ways to make money and still others, it gives them a chance to reflect on that which may be the silver lining in a seemingly bad situation.
Layoffs and empty plates do not always go hand in hand.
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