How tenure affects layoffs: is last in always first out?

4 mins

Job cuts are on the up. And one of the most hard-hit industries is media and tech. In a shor...

Job cuts are on the up. And one of the most hard-hit industries is media and tech. In a short video released by Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Netflix was highlighted as having cut 3% of its workforce in 2022, Meta as having laid off 11,000 staff, and Shopify, around 10% of its workers. Twitter and Amazon are further household names that have reportedly dropped in headcount. The pandemic, Apple’s privacy changes, and the launch of the Metaverse have all been cited by WSJ as causes of a reduction in people power for countless technology companies across the globe.

So, with redundancies and lay-offs a reality in the current tech world, we’re asking whether tenure still plays a role. Traditionally, some companies have been known to follow a “last in, first out” policy, leaving newer employees feeling at risk. But is this still true in 2023?

What does ‘last in, first out’ mean?

LIFO (or Last In, First Out) is a traditional method of selecting candidates for redundancy or lay-offs that involves choosing people on the basis that those with the shortest service should be selected first. In contrast, individuals who’ve spent long periods of time with an employer would be last to be laid off.

But it’s a process we’re seeing used less and less, because of the implications it has around ageism and the fact that younger workers will be at greater risk when companies are making cuts.


Equal ops are changing the workplace

Does tenure still matter when it comes to redundancies or lay-offs? Our opinion is: not necessarily.

Why? Well, for employers, carrying out redundancies or lay-offs comes with greater risk and challenges than it once did. Workers now have more rights and are better protected by law. Accusations of unfair dismissal or disparate treatment are situations that companies desperately want to avoid and can be costly as well as damaging to an organisation’s reputation - not to mention damaging to the remaining workforce.

Because of the importance of diversity in today’s workplaces, longevity is no longer the free pass it once was when it comes to avoiding redundancy or lay-offs. Increased efforts by employers to provide equal opportunities at work mean that no one is at less risk of being laid off when times get tough. And newer employees should no longer worry they’re automatically at the top of the list to be first out of the door.


Why value pips tenure

Besides the legal repercussions, businesses are understanding that losing the wrong people can negatively affect their performance in the long term. Newer employees frequently enhance a company with new skills, updated knowledge, and ambition to ‘change things up.’ They can be fundamental in taking a business in a new and improved direction and offering a fresher approach than workers who’ve stayed in the same role for many years.

Ultimately, people are central to an organisation’s success. Skills, knowledge, and attitude are all pipping ‘experience’ to the post. So, choosing the right ones, who can take their company from strength to strength, without any consideration to tenure, is the route that many forward-thinking employers are now taking.


Is my redundancy or lay-off fair?

If you’re affected by lay-offs, it’s best to try not to take it too personally. Easier said than done, right? But there’s a whole host of factors that companies normally evaluate when deciding which roles are going to benefit them the most. Redundancy outcomes are typically reached through strategic business assessments, and multiple criteria ranking is now often believed to be the most impartial way to reach staffing decisions.

Always be sure to ask your employer the reasons for making you redundant, though, and if you suspect the process may not have been entirely fair, be sure to seek official and/or legal advice.


With a recession looming, we must face the facts – the possibility of further redundancies or lay-offs within tech companies isn’t likely to go away. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Growth may have slowed a little, but the tech world is still very much on the up and one of the most exciting and fastest growing industries worldwide. At the start of 2023, the US Government announced an unemployment rate of just 3.4% - that’s the country’s lowest in 54 years.

If you’re worried that your tech role may be at risk or are simply keen to explore other exciting opportunities with one of the many companies still hiring, we can help. At the centre of the industry, Apollo Solutions's supporting technology specialists like you to navigate and thrive in this ever-changing sector. Why not get in touch with us today? Or, have a look at our latest jobs!

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