Article: The biggest layoffs of 2023: Amazon to Microsoft, firms fired employees in jaw-dropping numbers

Strategic HR

The biggest layoffs of 2023: Amazon to Microsoft, firms fired employees in jaw-dropping numbers

Upon delving into the reasons behind this deceleration, two predominant factors surface: the economic downturn and the widespread impact of AI, directly and indirectly usurping a multitude of job roles.
The biggest layoffs of 2023: Amazon to Microsoft, firms fired employees in jaw-dropping numbers

2023 made it evident that no industry or sector is spared from the onslaught of layoffs. What initially began as a response to the pandemic evolved into an unsettling trend throughout 2022, where companies relentlessly downsized their workforces. Optimism for a brighter 2023 for employees quickly dimmed as the year kicked off, witnessing major tech giants conducting mass layoffs, each numbering no less than 5,000.

As the year progressed, the cascading downfall of prominent banks exacerbated the disaster for banking sector employees. While many layoffs in these institutions made headlines, several others quietly took their toll, especially impacting junior-level staff. By September, the pace of these layoffs appeared to ease, only to see a resurgence during the holiday season.

On one side, tech giants and e-commerce platforms scrambled to hire due to capacity constraints, while on the other, industries continued their workforce reductions unabated. If we were to dissect the causes behind this slowdown, two primary culprits emerge: the economic downturn and the pervasive influence of AI, directly and indirectly claiming numerous jobs.

While the rationales behind these layoffs vary from company to company, here's a rundown of some of the biggest workforce reductions that unfolded in 2023.

The biggest layoffs of 2023

Amazon – 27,000

In March, Amazon executed a reduction of 9,000 additional jobs, bringing the total number of layoffs at Amazon to 27,000. This round of job cuts became the second-largest in the company’s history, supplementing the 18,000 employees the tech giant had announced it would lay off back in January. Throughout the pandemic, Amazon's workforce had doubled, aligning with a widespread hiring surge across almost the entire tech sector.

Accenture - 19,000  

The IT firm Accenture garnered attention for its announcement to lay off 19,000 individuals. These layoffs are scheduled to occur gradually, spanning 18 months, prioritising individuals who hadn't been assigned tasks for removal first. Additionally, the company had undertaken various other measures to reduce expenses and navigate through a challenging economic climate.

Alphabet – 12,000+

In January, Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced the layoff of 12,000 employees, equating to 6 per cent of its workforce, following a substantial slowdown in revenue growth. Concurrently, the company downsized and scrapped specific projects in a bid to boost efficiency. Subsequently, Google began implementing job cuts at its Waze mapping service while integrating the unit into its own map products.

Vodafone – 11,000

Vodafone's newly appointed CEO, Margherita Della Valle, announced a plan to cut 11,000 jobs over a span of three years. The decision came as the telecom giant forecasted a considerable 1.5 billion euro decline in free cash flow for the year. Addressing the need for change, Della Valle emphasised, "Our performance has not been good enough." She outlined her key priorities as focusing on customers, simplicity, and fostering growth.

Microsoft – 10,000+

Microsoft had laid off 10,000 employees by March 31 as the software maker prepared for slower revenue growth. During the fiscal second quarter, the company took a $1.2 billion charge, leading to a negative impact of 12 cents on earnings per share. Later, Microsoft made an additional cut of 276 people in its home state of Washington. Among them, 66 were working remotely.

Meta - 10,000

In fall 2022, Meta cut 11,000 jobs, but the reductions didn't stop there. By March 2023, the company revealed plans for an additional 10,000 layoffs to further reduce costs. The initial job cuts impacted the recruiting team, followed by reductions in its technology teams in late April and its business groups in late May. Meta aimed to streamline operations by trimming management layers and assigning some leaders tasks that were typically handled by lower-level employees. Meta anticipated a pause in staff growth, planning to lift the hiring freeze only after completing its restructuring effort by late 2023.

Credit Suisse – 9000+ 

Credit Suisse revealed plans to cut 9,000 jobs and raise billions from investors in a Saudi-led funding round to address scandals and recover from a £3.5bn loss. Ulrich Körner aimed to scale back the investment bank and reduce costs. The bank aimed to secure 4bn Swiss francs, including 1.5bn from the Saudi National Bank, potentially making it the second-largest investor. It also plans to reduce its global workforce to 43,000 by 2025 through job cuts and attrition, but the exact impact on its 5,500 UK employees remains unconfirmed.

Ericsson - 8,500

Swedish 5G networks maker Ericsson planned to lay off 8,500 staff worldwide to curtail expenses. The company had announced that the majority of these reductions would occur during the first half of the year, with some extending into 2024. These cuts amounted to 8 per cent of its workforce and were part of a strategy aimed at slashing $865 million in costs by the end of 2023. This action was initiated due to decelerating demand in certain markets, notably North America.

Dell - 6,650

Dell announced its plan to lay off approximately 6,650 employees due to the declining demand for personal computers. The job cuts were expected to affect roughly 5 per cent of the company's global workforce. As reported by Bloomberg, Dell's Co-Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Clarke, had claimed that the company was facing tough market conditions with an uncertain future. The layoffs were attributed to the ongoing challenges in the personal computer industry.

Citigroup – 5000+

Following a prolonged slump in dealmaking, Citigroup had planned to cut 5,000 jobs by June, primarily focusing on reductions in investment banking and trading departments. Even after more than a decade has passed since the financial crisis, the bank grappled with ongoing challenges in restoring its stability. It had already initiated a substantial number of employee layoffs since the start of the year.

BYJU'S - 4,000+ 

This year posed significant challenges for Byju's. While there are reports about official layoffs, it's anticipated that the company faced a higher number of layoffs due to the ongoing crisis. In September, Byju's decided to lay off approximately 4,000 employees, constituting over 11 per cent of its total workforce, over the following weeks. This move was part of a restructuring exercise amid financial strain, lender issues, and a marked decrease in the company's valuation. The Bengaluru-based firm had an approximate total of 35,000 employees.

IBM – 3,900

IBM fired 3,900 employees. This action occurred alongside a series of layoffs in the tech industry involving companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and others. IBM’s decision to lay off employees followed a shortfall in meeting its annual cash target. James Kavanaugh, IBM's Chief Financial Officer, mentioned the company's commitment to continue hiring for client-facing research and development roles.

Cognizant - 3500

The New Jersey-based IT giant laid off 3,500 employees to scale back its office space and save costs. Media reports indicated that the company, which predominantly derives its revenues from the US, had also projected a decline in revenues for 2023 due to ongoing challenges in the IT services industry. These measures, including layoffs and office space reduction, were part of the strategy initiated by the newly-appointed CEO Ravi Kumar S, who was facing the considerable challenge of revitalising the prominent software exporter. 

Morgan Stanley- 3,000 + 

Morgan Stanley cut approximately 3,000 jobs in the second quarter. This action marked the investment bank's second round of job cuts within a six-month period. The investment bank's decision was influenced by sluggish dealmaking and a challenging economic landscape, prompting a review of its workforce, according to the source. This recent step followed a preceding quarter where fees from the investment banking unit declined, resulting in an overall revenue decrease of nearly 2% to $14.5 billion.

Oracle - 3000

Cloud giant terminated more than 3,000 employees at Cerner, the electronic healthcare records firm it acquired for $28.4 billion. As detailed in an Insider report referencing current and former employees, Oracle halted salary raises and promotions and proceeded to "lay off thousands of employees within the unit" subsequent to the acquisition's closure in June of the previous year.

SAP - 2,800

At the end of 2022, business software giant SAP experienced a significant 68 per cent drop in profit. To ensure the health of its business, it initiated 2,800 staff layoffs as the new year began in 2023. Unlike certain prominent tech companies, SAP didn't attribute the cutback to excessive pandemic-era hiring. Instead, it described the move as a "targeted restructuring" for a company anticipating accelerated growth in 2023.

Rolls-Royce - 2,500

In October, Rolls-Royce trimmed up to 2,500 jobs as its new chief executive sought to build a more efficient business, becoming the latest boss to attempt to revamp one of Britain's most prestigious engineering companies. Throughout the last decade, Rolls-Royce, whose engines and systems were used on the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, as well as in ships, submarines, and power generation, underwent several restructurings, axing more than 13,000 jobs.

Disney - 2,500+

Disney went through multiple wave of layoffs, leading to substantial job losses within its workforce. As per CNN's report, the last round of cuts impacted over 2,500 staff members, marking the conclusion of reductions previously announced by Disney CEO Bob Iger. However, the details regarding the specific divisions affected by these layoffs have not been disclosed yet.

Spotify - 2300

Spotify kicked out approximately 17% of its global workforce, affecting around 1,500 employees. This decision followed previous layoffs of 600 people in January and an additional 200 in June earlier this year. CEO Daniel Ek stated in a prepared statement that the music streaming giant is persisting in its efforts to reduce costs and move towards profitability. He mentioned, “By most metrics, we were more productive but less efficient. We need to be both."

PayPal - 2,000

PayPal, considered one of the healthier large tech companies, had exceeded expectations in its third quarter last year. However, it wasn't immune to the challenges of a tough economy. At the end of January, the online payment firm announced plans to lay off 2,000 employees, amounting to seven per cent of its total workforce. CEO Dan Schulman stated that the downsizing aimed to control costs and enable PayPal to concentrate on its "core strategic priorities."

Indeed – 2,200 went ahead with plans to cut approximately 2,200 jobs, which represented almost 15% of its total workforce. CEO Chris Hyams had announced the cuts in a memo, stating, “The cuts came from nearly every team, function, level, and region.” The memo added, “The specific decisions on who and where to cut were extremely difficult, but they were made with great care.”

LinkedIn - 1,400

In its second round of layoffs this year, LinkedIn announced it was letting go of around 668 workers from its engineering, product, talent, and finance teams. In May, LinkedIn had announced laying off 716 people and closing its job search app in China. Between the two rounds of layoffs, LinkedIn had cut nearly 1,400 jobs in 2023.

Lucid Motors - 1,300 

In March, Lucid Motors had announced it was laying off 18 per cent of its workforce, approximately 1,300 people. The company was reportedly still struggling to meet its production targets, and these cuts were aimed at addressing "evolving business needs and productivity improvements." The layoffs were across all levels, affecting both executives and contractors.

Zoom - 1,300

In February, the video calling firm announced the layoff of approximately 1,300 employees, constituting 15 per cent of its workforce. CEO Eric Yuan mentioned that the company hadn't hired "sustainably" during its rapid growth phase. The layoffs were considered necessary to navigate a challenging economic landscape. Additionally, the management team took further steps beyond apologies. Yuan reduced his salary by 98 per cent for the upcoming fiscal year, and other executives also experienced a 20 per cent reduction in their base salaries along with the forfeiture of their fiscal 2023 bonuses.

Yahoo - 1000

Yahoo eliminated about 1,000 jobs in February, which accounted for roughly 12% of its employees. It marked the first round of cuts in a larger plan to restructure its advertising tech division amidst a wave of industry layoffs. The company, owned by Apollo Global Management Inc., aimed to reduce the headcount at its Yahoo for Business ad tech unit by almost 50% by the end of 2023. This amounted to more than 20% of Yahoo's overall workforce, according to a company spokesperson. 

JioMart - 1000

JioMart, Reliance Retail’s online shopping platform, laid off over 1,000 employees this year. This move reflected the Indian retail giant's initiative to enhance its profit margins. The reorganisation followed JioMart’s earlier aggressive pricing tactics, causing traditional distributors to contemplate supply disruptions. However, the firm's current emphasis on bolstering margins and minimising losses suggests a shift in strategy.

Olx Group - 800

The online marketplace and classifieds business under Prosus, executed a global downsizing, leading to around 800 job reductions. The company opted to shut down its automotive business arm, Olx Autos, in specific markets, culminating in these layoffs. This decision followed an extensive exploration of potential buyers and investors, according to TechCrunch's report.

DocuSign – 700+

Joining several other companies in the layoff spree was DocuSign, an e-signature software company. The firm had recently announced its plans to cut around 10% of its workforce. According to media reports, it had 7,461 employees in January 2022 before it announced an earlier round of layoffs last September, impacting 9% of its workforce. A report by CNBC revealed that the latest cuts would impact about 700 employees. DocuSign had stated that the firings were aimed at supporting the company’s growth, scaling, and profitability objectives. The restructuring of the company was expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter.

Dunzo – 580

Quick-commerce player Dunzo underwent approximately three rounds of layoffs due to escalating challenges, particularly concerning cashflow issues. Senior employees estimated that roughly 20 percent of the company’s workforce, approximately 200 employees, had been impacted. As of that point, the company had already let go of 380 employees through two previous rounds of layoffs.

Intel – 140 

The American chipmaker company, announced layoffs in the United States aimed at reducing expenses. According to Sacramento Inno's report, the company implemented 89 job cuts at its Folsom campus and 51 job cuts at its San Jose, California office. This move followed the company's earlier announcement, detailing its intentions to reduce its workforce as a cost-cutting measure in response to financial losses.

Stay tuned to People Matters for stories that offer valuable insights and lessons, paving the way for reflections, introspection, and the anticipation of what 2024 might hold! 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #HRCommunity, #YearThatWas, #Layoffs, #HRTech

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