Networking giant Cisco Systems is laying off staff again, employees reported on social media this week. While the employees saw this as a fresh round of layoffs, Cisco said it was just enacting plans announced in November 2022.
Cisco confirmed to ComputerWorld that there was a round of layoffs this week but said they were part of the 4,100 job cuts it had previously announced.
"These recent notifications are part of the rebalancing effort we began in November 2022, which included a limited restructuring impacting our real estate portfolio and approximately 5% of our workforce,” a Cisco spokesperson said.
Last November, despite posting record quarterly revenue of $13.6 billion, Cisco announced it would be laying off around 5 per cent of its 83,000 workers.
The company said then that it was restructuring in order to rebalance the organisation and enable further investment in key priority areas.
“Don't think of this as a headcount action that is motivated by cost savings. This really is a rebalancing,” CFO Scott Herren said then.
A Cisco spokesperson reiterated that line on Thursday.
“As we announced then, this is not about cost savings as we have roughly the same number of employees as we did before the process began,” the spokesperson said. “This rebalancing is about prioritising investments in our transformation, to meet and exceed our customers' expectations in the changing technology landscape.”
The spokesperson said the company will continue doing everything possible to help place affected employees in open roles and offer extensive support, including generous severance packages.
Disgruntled employees react
For the employees affected, it makes little difference whether this is a fresh round of layoffs or one announced previously: they’re still losing their jobs.
A Cisco employee in Bangalore told ComputerWorld that colleagues there had been laid off.
“There were certain employees laid off and there are speculations of more as well. As of what we are aware, these will be across the different business units and will include engineers, and security engineers,” the employee said, requesting anonymity.
The employee said that the layoffs began globally with several high-level directors being awarded the pink slip.
“We are not really aware if the layoffs are part of the fresh round or those announced earlier. For an employee, it is a plain layoff, a loss of employment and income. With the current job market scenario and the layoff there is a sense of scare and panic among employees,” the employee said, adding that the reason being given for the layoffs is a restructuring plan.
There is no definitive number for how many employees have been let go in the current wave, or how many more will be.
Globally, too, Cisco employees have been confirming layoffs on social media.
According to anonymous career messaging site Blind, employees in the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), Cisco Collaboration, Cisco Data Center Services Solutions, Cisco Experience Centers (CxC) - Research Triangle Park, Cisco Security Business Group (SBG), Cisco Servers - Unified Computing System (UCS), and Cisco Webex have been impacted.
Another anonymous user wrote on Layoff.com, that he was laid off despite being a top performer. The user said the severance packages offered were “Early exit - 8/31 + 4-month base salary + Lump sum to help with COBRA + Nov 10th RSU will vest + Year end bonus or Standard exit - 10/16 + 3-month base salary + Lump sum to help with COBRA + Nov 10th RSU will vest + Year end bonus.”
(RSUs are restricted stock units, shares awarded as compensation when certain conditions (such as length of employment) are met. Help with COBRA refers to a contribution toward the cost of extending health benefits after employment ends under the US Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.)
Several employees questioned earlier remarks by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins in January, where he told Bloomberg in an interview that there will be no further job cuts at Cisco.
Some employees also accused the Cisco leadership of insensitivity and ill-treatment.
A user on layoff.com wrote, “Chuck is sending out promotion emails and congratulations CP right after the layoff day. No empathy for the employees who got impacted by the layoff. He could at least wait for a couple of days.” Another one wrote, “I can't believe how the Cisco culture treats people like dirt once they are laid off. I'm very hurt! I realised it before, but now I see it firsthand.”
Layoffs continue in the tech industry
Due to the uncertain global economy and slowing revenue growth, technology companies have picked up the pace of layoffs in 2023, with total staff cuts now greater than all tech company job losses last year. These layoffs can mainly be attributed to big tech companies going on a hiring binge during the pandemic when lockdowns sparked a tech buying spree to support remote work and an uptick in e-commerce, and now they face revenue declines.
According to data compiled by Layoffs.fyi, the online tracker keeping tabs on job losses in the technology sector, 2,188 tech companies have laid off about 482,25 staff so far this year, compared to 164,411 layoffs last year.