By Emmy Serviss / Boston
One month ago, our human resources director put a last-minute meeting on my calendar. I didn’t think anything of it, because I’d been working closely with HR on various employee engagement activities, so I assumed this was simply a meeting to check-in on my ideas for a #ThrowbackThursday photo contest.
Imagine my surprise when my supervisor also joined the meeting, looking weirdly serious for 10 a.m. on a Thursday. The HR director asked flatly, “How are you doing?” Still oblivious to what was happening, I responded with a dry, “I don’t know, how am I doing?” When my joke fell flat and The HR director said to my supervisor, “Do you want to kick things off?,” that’s when I knew something was wrong. But I was still stupidly in denial. The denial wouldn’t last long, though. The next words spoken went something like this:
“Due to restructuring within the company, your position has been eliminated and you are no longer an employee of [NAME REDACTED].
I immediately burst into tears.
To say that I didn’t see it coming was an understatement. I had been at the company for over a year and had been given glowing performance reviews. I performed my duties diligently and professionally. My relationships with co-workers and external clients were all positive and collaborative. I was taking on additional responsibilities and working towards a promotion.
I was totally blindsided.
Additionally, there had been no hints of trouble within the company. On the contrary, we had been expanding and hiring like crazy. In the year I’d been at the company, my team had grown from two members (my managing director and I) to about 11 people, as well as opening a London branch of the team. Everything was fine. Or so I thought.
I still don’t know what happened exactly. All I know is that about a dozen of us were impacted by the “restructuring,” and that seniority within the company meant nothing. The saying “Last one in, first one out” didn’t apply. An SVP who had been with the company for five years was let go, while an SVP who had just finished their second week at the company stayed on.
On Tuesday the managing directors were alerted that layoffs would be happening.
On Wednesday the names were released to the managing directors.
On Thursday I had my 10 a.m. meeting and my employment ended at 10:23.
There was no discussion or negotiation as to who would stay and who would be terminated. It was decreed from up on high, and it happened fast. My email was deactivated almost immediately, and I didn’t even have time to process what had just happened before I got locked out of my account.
And that was that.
I was in shock.
All I could do was cry.
Within the last three years, I have now been laid off twice. Once due to Covid, and now due to some mysterious “restructuring.” Both instances, I was reassured that it had nothing to do with me or my performance. I feel like that should make me feel better about being unemployed, but it makes me feel worse.
When I was laid off in 2020, it was DuRiNg ThEsE uNpREcEdEnTeD tImEs so while it was awful, it was somewhat comforting knowing that I wasn’t alone. Granted, it took me a whole year to find a new job, so that sense of comfort was very short-lived. Hopefully it won’t take me so long to find a new job this time, since there aren’t an additional 16 million people also job searching.
The thing that hurts the most about this layoff is that I honestly thought I was going to be with this company for years. I truly enjoyed the people I was working with, and I enjoyed the work I was doing. I felt valued and appreciated and respected…until I wasn’t.
So now, I’m forced to reexamine my career aspirations.
And my résumé needs updating.
Emmy Serviss is a Boston-based writer, actor and video editor. Once it is safe to return to live theater, you can find her performing with ComedySportz Boston and the sketch group SUZZY. When not on the stage, Emmy enjoys indulging in her new pandemic hobbies, laughing way too loudly and counting the days until Halloween.